EHR use tied to decrease in malpractice claims

July 5, 2012

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Using electronic health records (EHRs) could lessen your chance of being sued for medical malpractice, a new study suggests.

Researchers in Massachusetts merged closed-claims data from a malpractice insurer in that state for doctors covered from 1995 to 2007 with data from surveys given to a random sample of Massachusetts physicians in 2005 and 2007, and they used regression analysis to determine whether EHR use was associated with malpractice claims. They found that the rate of malpractice claims when EHRs were used was about one-sixth the rate when EHRs were not used.

The authors note that unmeasured factors may account partially for the reduction in malpractice claims. For example, “Physicians who were early EHR adopters may exhibit practice patterns that make them less likely to have malpractice claims independent of EHR adoption,” they write. “Furthermore, other interventions may have occurred concurrent with EHR implementation that could account for some of the observed reduction of malpractice claims attributed to EHRs.”

Results of the study were published online first in the June issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.  

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