Ethics in Emergency Medicine| Volume 57, ISSUE 2, P263-265, August 2019

Physician Integrity, Templates, and the ‘F’ Word


      The medical profession is increasingly dependent upon electronic health records. Along with documented benefits, a number of potential ethical abuses have been outlined. Herein, we describe an ethical abuse that has received almost no attention, namely falsified medical records. We present three cases in which the medical record cited facts from history that were not elicited and findings from physical examination that was not performed. This is fraud. Prepopulated templates were almost certainly responsible. If a template is used, it must begin free of results–a skeleton onto which flesh is placed. If coders and third-party payers insist on having information than health care providers think relevant, then we, as a profession should “push back,” but a template that has been prepopulated puts fraudulent data into electronic health record, seriously damaging physician integrity.


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