Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Burden of eDiscovery

In an email to me yesterday, Dr. Scot Silverstein wrote: "You might want to add to your risks on the new risk of eDiscovery. I just attended an AHIMA conference (Amer. Health Info Management Assoc.) where this was discussed. The infrastructure required to be able to respond effectively to eDiscovery requests will likely become increasingly burdensome to healthcare organizations."

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) has published a summary of the Electronic Discovery Civil Rule and how it applies to healthcare organizations. While this applies to organizations in the United States, one will expect that similar issues will arise in all national jurisdictions. From the summary:

"As electronic health record (EHR) technology advances, sophisticated litigators are gaining a better understanding of the information they can obtain from e-mail messages, databases, software applications, computer logs, and metadata. Electronic discovery (e-discovery) is becoming a critical part in gathering and using evidence in legal proceedings, complementing traditional methods such as photocopies, printouts, and digital images of patient medical records.

New changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure related to e-discovery will greatly affect how healthcare organizations manage their electronic records. This practice brief provides an overview of pretrial requirements in the e-discovery civil rule and reviews the relevance and application of each section of the rule to healthcare organizations. Additionally, it identifies the steps HIM professionals can take to prepare their departments and organizations for the challenges associated with e-discovery."

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