A bill strongly advocated for by San Francisco Attorney Christopher Dolan to help keep hospital patients safe has been signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown. The law will ensure that patients and health-care providers have full pictures of patients’ care by keeping records of all changes made to patients’ electronic medical records (EMRs). The law also gives patients the right to request access to their EMRs.
Christopher Dolan’s tenacious promotion of the legislation was inspired by the tragic story of a woman who passed away from complications following surgery. When her family members sought to view the woman’s EMR to better understand what happened, they found that portions of her medical record had been deleted and that hospital staff made additions to her EMR much later than the notes indicated.
The California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act was crafted to address this problem, and its provisions will become effective January 1, 2012. The Act states that all electronic medical record systems must “Automatically record and preserve any change or deletion of any electronically stored medical information.” In addition, the record must include the identity of the person who made the change, the date and time the record was accessed, and the change made to the medical information.
This information will maintain and provide the full history of patients’ medical care and help hold health-care providers accountable for any treatment errors they may make, improving patient care in California.
Christopher Dolan, founder of The Dolan Law Firm, represents patients and their families in medical malpractice lawsuits in San Francisco and throughout the Bay Area. He was named Statewide Consumer Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Consumer Attorneys of California and has been recognized repeatedly as a California Super Lawyer.