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Title Computers in medicine: liability issues for physicians
Author(s) Arthur W. Hafner; Andrey B. Filipowicz; William P. Whitely
Source International Journal of Clinical Monitoring and Computing, Vol. 6, Pages 185-194
Publication Date 1989
Abstract Physicians routinely use computers to store, access, and retrieve medical information. As computer use becomes even more widespread in medicine, failure to utilize information systems may be seen as a violation of professional custom and lead to findings of professional liability. Even when a technology is not widespread, failure to incorporate it into medical practice may give rise to liability if the technology is accessible to the physician and reduces risk to the patient. Improvement in the availability of medical information sources imposes a greater burden on the physician to keep current and to obtain informed consent from patients. To routinely perform computer-assisted literature searches for informed consent and diagnosis is 'good medicine.'

Clinical and diagnostic applications of computer technology now include computer-assisted decision making with the aid of sophisticated databases. Although such systems will expand the knowledge base and competence of physicians, malfunctioning software raises a major liability question. Also, complex computer-driven technology is used in direct patient care. Defective or improperly used hardware or software can lead to patient injury, thus raising additional complicated questions of professional liability and product liability.


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