The study reveals doctors who switched to electronic health records had fewer malpractice claims than doctors who use paper records.
The study, conducted by the Harvard School of Medicine and published in the June 25 online edition of Archives of Internal Medicine, offers evidence that electronic health records improve quality control and prevent mistakes.
Researchers reported medical malpractice claims were roughly 84 percent less likely for physicians who adopted electronic medical records.
Electronic health records "improve quality and safety and, as a result, prevent adverse events and reduce the risk of malpractice claims," said study co-author Dr. Steven Simon, an associate professor with Harvard Medical School and an internist with VA Boston Healthcare System.
The study makes sense and "alleviates concerns that the use of electronic health records could lead to increased medical malpractice risk," said Tom Baker, professor of law and health sciences at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Baker was interviewed in a story published in U.S. News and World Report.
The study tracked malpractice cases for 275 Massachusetts physicians surveyed in 2005 and 2007. Of those, 33 physicians were targeted by one or more malpractice claims. There were 49 malpractice-related claims before the physicians adopted electronic health records, and two occurred after. The study was limited to doctors affiliated with Harvard Medical School.
"This research suggests that, rather than increasing medical malpractice risk, adopting electronic health records reduces that risk," Baker told the publication.