ER doctors subpoenaed for incorrectly ordering imaging exams 

Emergency room (ER) doctors at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence have been delivered subpoenas charging them with medical misconduct for incorrectly ordering imaging examinations, according to an article published Jan. 30 by Politico.  

The doctors and their colleagues believe the Rhode Island Department of Health’s response could complicate the voluntary reporting of medical errors. Also, electronic health record (EHR) safety researchers believe that penalizing doctors for self-reported mistakes could “send the wrong message,” according to the article.  

The subpoenas were sent to at least four ER doctors and address x-rays and other imaging scans mistakenly ordered or ordered for the wrong side of a patient’s body. Politico noted that these errors are commonly made because EHR screens are complex and a physician's workday consists of making roughly 4,000 clicks on the computer a day—making it easy to choose the wrong icon or patient name.  

Politico quoted one of the letters sent to a physician, which accuses these doctors of “incompetent, negligible or willful misconduct in the practice of medicine” including “rendering of medically unnecessary services” that “fail to conform with standards.” It also stated the Department of Health would be ordering a hearing into the physician’s activities “forthwith.”  

Rhode Island Hospital has been operating under a consent agreement with the state’s Department of Health since June over four mistakenly ordered imaging exams, according to the article. The consent agreement requires the hospital to make a number of steps to improve patient identification and verification procedures, including those relating to medical imaging services, and reducing the number of errors when entering EHR data.  

Read Politico’s entire report below.