A Massachusetts study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, suggests that a lower rate of malpractice claims is linked to the use of electronic health records (EHRs). The researchers noted that while EHRs “enhance documentation, make visits more efficient, reduce medication errors, and allow providers to track and manage their entire patient population, some physicians harbor reservations about potential unintended consequences of EHRs, including a possible increased risk of adverse events.”
To assess the effect of EHRs on malpractice claims, researchers merged closed-claim data from a major malpractice insurer in Massachusetts with data from two surveys sent to a random sample of MA physicians. The researchers discovered that the rate of malpractice claims when EHRs were used was one-sixth the rate when EHRs were not used.
“This study adds to the literature suggesting that EHRs have the potential to improve patient safety and supports the conclusions of our prior work, which showed a lower risk of paid claims among physicians using EHRs,” the researchers wrote. The authors concluded by noting that the sixfold reduction in claims shown in the study among physicians who adopted EHRs “lends support to the push for widespread implementation of health information technology.”
Source: www.renalandurologynews.com; Ann W. Latner, JD; Jul 9, 2012.