A recent study showed that doctors who used electronic medical records were 84 percent less likely to face claims of medical malpractice than doctors who were using traditional paper files. Electronic medical records allow doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to use computers to monitor patient care. Surprisingly, such technologies have yet to be widely implemented. The Massachusetts study surveyed 275 physicians in 2005 and 2007. Out of the doctors surveyed, 33 faced claims of malpractice. The researchers determined that 49 of the medical malpractice claims brought against the surveyed doctors were before electronic health records were used, and only two claims came after e-records were put into place. Electronic health records allow doctors and other medical professionals to better track patients and improve patient care and safety. Electronic health records reduce errors by the following:
- Allowing doctors to easily identify medication conflicts and allergies
- Making communication with patients easier
- Making communication with other doctors about a patient’s care easier
Some doctors, however, are skeptical of electronic health records. In addition to the increased cost of implementing e-recording systems, some physicians are concerned that changing to an unfamiliar computerized system may spawn more mistakes and instances of medical malpractice. Others are concerned that electronic records are easier to review and would allow lawyers to more easily identify medical errors; increasing the amount of medical malpractice claims. Rather than fearing change and increased scrutiny, doctors and physicians should make changes that will improve patient care. The research suggests that electronic health records reduce medical malpractice claims by improving patient safety.