Baltimore Medical Malpractice Attorneys: Taking a Byte Out of MalpracticeDecember 13, 2012
Computers have certainly changed everybody’s life in recent years — but for some people, the advent of the digital age may have literally saved their life.
A new study released by Harvard Medical School researchers suggests that doctors who switch from paper to electronic medical records for their patients may face significantly fewer medical malpractice claims. According to a report in healthcareitnews.com, the researchers found that among 275 physicians surveyed in 2005 and 2007, medical malpractice claims were about 84 percent less likely after the physicians implemented electronic medical record-keeping systems.
Ironically, some observers predicted that the trend toward electronic health records, or EHRs, would result in an increase in malpractice claims — either due to the potential for processing errors and technical mistakes in using the systems, or simply because the availability of all that data would make treatment errors more trackable by claimants.
Supporters of the digital switch, however, believe the availability of all that data helps doctors avoid treatment errors in the first place by providing them with clear, complete information on each patient, such as current medications and any allergies or other conditions that should be taken into consideration in the course of diagnosis and treatment. The availability of email as part of an electronic system can also assist in doctor-patient communication.
According to the study, it is possible to reduce medical error risk factors through health information technology. These factors include:
- Inadequate communication between providers
- Difficult-to-access patient information
- Unsafe practices when prescribing medication
- Insufficient adherence to clinical guidelines