A new Harvard study reveals that malpractice claims dipped significantly after a group of Massachusetts physicians started using electronic medical records, according to an MSN.com report. In the study, researchers tracked malpractice cases for 275 physicians who were surveyed in 2005 and 2007, of which 33 were targeted by malpractice claims. Forty-nine of these medical malpractice claims took place before the physicians began using electronic health records, and only two occurred after. The researchers estimate that medical malpractice claims were 84 percent less likely after electronic medical records were adopted.
The MSN.com news report does note that it is not clear, however, if the change in record-keeping was connected to the decline in claims. The study says factors other than electronic health records may account for the difference in claims; i.e. the significant changes made in the state’s healthcare system in 2006. Researchers also pointed out that the study was limited to doctors in MA who were affiliated with Harvard Medical School. Regardless, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School states that the study makes sense and may alleviate some concerns that the use of electronic health records may lead to an increase in medical malpractice.
Electronic medical records allow physicians to use computers to track patients instead of relying on paper files, and despite the limitations of the study, the research provides further evidence that e-records can improve safety and quality. This can ultimately “prevent adverse events and reduce the risk of malpractice claims.” Though the medical world has been slow to embrace e-records, supporters of electronic medical records say it can help physicians cut down on errors by making it easier to spot potential problems, like medication conflicts, and can make it easier for doctors to communicate with patients and other physicians.
Electronic medical records may be a step towards reducing medical malpractice claims, but serious medical mistakes caused by the negligence of a healthcare professional may still unfortunately occur. If you feel you endured harm or injury as the result of medical negligence, contact medical malpractice attorney Steven H. Heisler, “The Injury Lawyer.” Mr. Heisler is dedicated to protecting the rights of patients in Maryland and can help you hold any negligent parties responsible for your injuries. Call (877) 228-4878 for a free consultation.