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  • Writer's pictureLeitner Varughese Warywoda

The Hidden Dangers of Altered Medical Records in Medical Malpractice: Audit Trails Reveal the Truth


An audit trail is a detailed record of all activities and changes made to electronic medical records, including who accessed the record, when, and what changes were made. It provides a complete history of the document and helps to ensure the integrity, confidentiality, and accuracy of the information.


In medical malpractice cases, an audit trail can be crucial in determining what actions were taken by healthcare providers and when they were taken. It can be used to establish a timeline of events leading up to an adverse patient outcome and can help to identify any potential errors or discrepancies in documentation.

The audit trail can also be used to track who had access to the patient’s medical record and when, which can be important in cases where there are allegations of unauthorized access or tampering with the records.


Overall, the audit trail is an important tool in helping to establish accountability and transparency in the healthcare system.


An audit trail can be used to expose medical records that have been altered after the fact in several ways.

Here are some common examples:


1 Timestamp discrepancies: The audit trail maintains a record of the date and time when each change was made in the electronic medical record (EMR). If any changes were made after the event in question, there will be a discrepancy between the timestamp of the original entry and the timestamp of the altered entry.


2 Missing entries: If an entry in the EMR is deleted or modified, it will leave a void in the audit trail. This can indicate that someone attempted to hide something by removing the original entry.


3 Changes made by unauthorized users: The audit trail records the user who made each change in the EMR. If an unauthorized user makes a change, it will be flagged in the audit trail.


4 Inconsistencies in the record: If there are inconsistencies or contradictions in the EMR, the audit trail can help to identify when and why changes were made to the record.


Overall, the audit trail is an important tool in identifying any unauthorized or fraudulent manipulations of EMRs. It can help to safeguard patient safety and ensure the integrity and accuracy of medical records.


The audit trail can be used as a very effective weapon on cross examination to expose inconsistencies in testimony, and the record. The audit trail can be used as a very effective weapon on cross examination to expose inconsistencies in testimony, and the record Sample cross examination of a nurse based on the audit trail:


Lawyer: Nurse, can you tell us about the audit trail for the patient's electronic medical record?


Nurse: Yes, the audit trail is a record of all activities and changes made to the patient's EMR, including who accessed the record, when, and what changes were made.


Lawyer: And were you aware of any changes made to the record after the event in question?


Nurse: No, I don't believe so.


Lawyer: Let's take a look at the audit trail for that day. Can you see that there was a change made to the record at 3:00 pm, after the event in question?


Nurse: Yes, I can see that now.


Lawyer: And can you explain who made that change and what it was?


Nurse: I don't know who made the change or what it was. I was not involved in that.


Lawyer: So, going back to your earlier testimony, you were not aware of any changes made to the record after the event in question. But now we see in the audit trail that a change was made at 3:00 pm. How do you explain this discrepancy?


Nurse: I can't explain it. I didn't know about that change before now.


Lawyer: It appears that someone altered the record after the fact, without authorization and without your knowledge. Would you agree?


Nurse: Yes, based on what I see in the audit trail, that appears to be the case.


Lawyer: Thank you, Nurse. No further questions.

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