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Electronic Health Records May Reduce Malpractice Claims

Reduced rate of claims adds to benefits for patient safety and health care quality

TUESDAY, Nov. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Using electronic health records may be associated with reduced malpractice claims, according to a report published in the Nov. 24 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Anunta Virapongse, M.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues conducted a study of 1,884 Massachusetts physicians, of whom 1,345 (71.4 percent) responded to a survey on use of electronic health records, while data on paid malpractice claims was obtained from the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine.

Data from both sources was available for 1,140 respondents, of whom 379 (33.2 percent) had electronic health records, the researchers discovered. The rate of paid malpractice claims was 6.1 percent for doctors with electronic health records versus 10.8 percent for those without, the data revealed. However, after controlling for specialty, size of practice, year of graduation from medical school, race and sex, the difference between the two groups was not statistically significant, the investigators found.

"Although the results of this study are inconclusive, physicians with electronic health records appear less likely to have paid malpractice claims," the authors write. "If confirmed in future studies, the observed relationship between electronic health records adoption and paid malpractice claims could have implications for physicians and malpractice insurers."

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