Study: Electronic medical records reduce malpractice claims

Electronic health records may help reduce hefty malpractice settlements for physicians and insurance companies.

In a study done by Harvard researchers, 6.1% of physicians with electronic records had malpractice settlements, compared to 10.8% without electronic records.

"The results of this study indicate that preventing medical malpractice claims may be another compelling reason for physicians, practices and policy-makers to forge ahead with efforts toward universal adoption and optimal usage of electronic health records," said Steven Simon, a professor at Harvard Medical School and the lead author of the study.

The researchers believe that electronic records decrease malpractice claims because they offer easy access to a patient's history, which leads to fewer errors, and clear documentation of care in the event of a legal battle.

If the link between electronic health records and lower malpractice payments can be confirmed in other studies, insurers may offer a lower premium to doctors who use electronic records, Simon said.

President-elect Obama has frequently talked of his plans to modernize health care, in part by promoting the use of electronic medical records.

The study was published in the November 24th issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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