A new study reveals that medical malpractice claims significantly dipped for a group of Massachusetts physicians after they began using electronic records, according to a U.S. News report. Electronic records, or e-records, allow physicians to utilize computers to track patients rather than relying on paper files. Supporters of this advanced form of record keeping assert that it cuts down on errors by making it easier for doctors to spot potential problems, such as medication conflicts. E-records may also make it easier for physicians to communicate with patients and other physicians. The medical world has not been quick to embrace e-records, largely because of the cost of switching from paper, and some physicians feel that e-records may create new kinds of errors and problems for patients.
The study tracked malpractice cases for 275 physicians who were surveyed by researchers in 2005 and 2007. Of those surveyed, 33 were targeted for malpractice claims, and 49 of the malpractice claims took place before the physicians adopted electronic health records and only two occurred after. The study’s researchers approximate that medical malpractice claims were about 84 percent less likely after electronic records were put in place, though presently it’s not clear if the electronic recordkeeping was linked to the decline in claims. A co-author of the study does feel that the research shows that e-records can improve safety and quality, in turn reducing the risk of a malpractice claim.
The study was limited only to doctors in MA affiliated with Harvard Medical School, and other factors may account for the difference in malpractice claims, such as Massachusetts making major changes to the state’s health care system. Regardless, a University of Pennsylvania Law School professor states that the study makes senses and “alleviates concerns that the use of electronic health records could lead to increased medical malpractice risk.” He adds that the research does suggest adopting electronic health records may reduce the risk of costly medical malpractice claim.
Medical professionals are legally and ethically obligated to provide the highest standard of care to all patients. If they do not and are medically negligent, a patient can suffer serious consequences as a result, and their health and well-being may be put in jeopardy. Kentucky medical malpractice attorney Tad Thomas is dedicated to protecting the rights of patients who have been injured as a result of medical negligence and can help the patient obtain the compensation he or she needs to recover.