Electronic Health Records Decrease Medical Malpractice Claims

A new study by the Harvard Medical School indicates that electronic health records will reduce the number of medical malpractice lawsuits. The findings of the study, titled “The relationship Between Electronic Health Records and Malpractice Claims,” were recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

According to the findings, 84 percent of study participating physicians—who responded to a survey created by the Harvard researchers—were less likely to face a claim of medical malpractice after implementing electronic health records in their practice. For the study, researchers collected data from 275 physicians and surgeons between 2005 and 2007.

According to the data collected from the survey, 51 of the 275 were recipients of medical malpractice claims. Of those 51 who received medical malpractice claims, 49 of the medical malpractice claims occurred before they adopted electronic health records. Only two claims occurred after adopting electronic health records. According to researchers, when physicians employ electronic health records, they should experience one-sixth the number of medical malpractice claims as those physicians who do not employ electronic health records.

According to the researchers, this empirical data should at the very least assuage physician fears that adopting electronic health records could increase the number of medical malpractice claims.

The researchers also stressed that electronic health records improve communication between healthcare workers, speed up access to patient data, decrease prescription errors and increase compliance with clinical guidelines.

This should be good news to those in the medical professional liability industry who are against the implementation of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act. With its mandate that all physicians adopt electronic health records, it should have a deflationary effect on medical malpractice claims.

That said, electronic health records likely will be a tougher sell to the American public than physicians. A survey last year of 1,000 Americans indicated that 49 percent believe electronic health records will negatively impact their privacy.

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