Use of Electronic Records Results in Fewer Malpractice Claims

According to a new study, doctors who switch to using electronic records are less likely to be sued for medical malpractice than doctors who continue to use paper records.

The findings were surprising to some observers, who had been concerned that errors would become more common as doctors begin using unfamiliar systems. However, the study, which was authored by Dr. Steven Simon of the VA Boston Healthcare System, found that the use of electronic patient records was linked to an 84 percent lower chance of a medical malpractice lawsuit.

There are other factors that may play a role in the decision of medical professionals to use electronic records, including the possibility that the electronic information trail may lead to a greater degree of scrutiny in a lawsuit.

Simon said that approximately one-third of doctors use electronic records, allowing different doctors treating the same patient to access each other’s notes and check prescription information. Some systems include additional technology for the protection of patients, such as a warning that is given if a prescription is contraindicated because of its interaction with another medicine the patient is taking.

To conduct the study, researchers took a survey of 275 doctors in Massachusetts during 2005 and 2007 to ask whether they had started using electronic health records. They then compared that information to medical malpractice claims against the doctors. They counted 49 claims in the absence of electronic records and two claims after the adoption of an electronic system.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer and Chicago medical malpractice attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

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