EHRs May Lower Medical Malpractice Settlements
A study published in the November issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine showed that the use of electronic health records (EHRs) may reduce the number and amount of medical malpractice settlements. Researchers associated with Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, a health insurance company, studied data from 1,140 physicians in Massachusetts, including those who used EHRs and those who didn't.
Documentation and Preservation of Medical Records
EHRs are electronic-form, computerized records that document and preserve patients' health care data, including information about treatment, medications and follow-up. EHRs also provide data for monitoring care and devising quality improvements.
The study's senior author, Professor Steven Simon, explained the purpose of the investigation: "There is broad consensus that electronic health records are an essential foundation for the delivery of high-quality care. As electronic health record adoption proceeds as a national health policy objective, some have wondered whether EHRs can help to prevent medical malpractice claims."
A Trend Indicating Less Malpractice Claims When EHRs Are Used
The study's findings showed a trend for less medical malpractice claims among doctors who use EHR technology. Looking at only malpractice claims that had been settled and paid, the study's authors found that:
1. Only about 6 percent of the doctors who used EHRs had medical malpractice settlements during the preceding ten-year period (going back from 2005).
2. More than 10 percent of the physicians who did not use EHRs had malpractice settlements in the same period.
3. In a comparison of more-active versus less-active EHR users, only 5.7 percent of the more-active users had paid malpractice settlements, compared to 12.1 percent of the less-active EHR users.
The study authors speculated that the use of EHRs may decrease malpractice claims because EHR use may result in fewer treatment errors (e.g., regarding diagnosis, test results, medication, or adherence to treatment guidelines).
(Source: Medical News Today)
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