Study: Use of Electronic Medical Records Reduces Malpractice Claims
One of the latest advancements in patient safety is electronic medical records, commonly referred to as EMRs. EMRs allow hospitals and clinics to store a patient’s medical records in one spot that is accessible to doctors and nurses throughout the hospital system with access to a computer. EMRs provide a centralized space for notes, results of procedures and all medications prescribed can be documented.
Along with convenience, patient safety is one of the main benefits of EMRs. And while EMRs are new to health care in the past few years, one of the measures of safety, the number of medical malpractice lawsuits filed, indicate that EMRs are improving safety.
Results of a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine show that doctors who use electronic records have an 84 percent less chance of facing a medical malpractice lawsuit than doctors who use the traditional paper records. One of the main safety benefits of EMRs is that many systems will warn doctors if medications being prescribed will interact with medications already being taken by the patient; helping prevent the dangerous complications of prescription errors.
Although, one doctor told Reuters Health that a “wait and see” approach should be taken when considering EMRs and lawsuits, as EMRs provide a lot of information for attorneys to use and consider during malpractice claims. Additionally, there are concerns that the learning curve for doctors and nurses could lead to medical errors such as entering information about one patient in another patient's EMR.
Even with all of the benefits that EMRs offer by way of patient safety, no one new technology will eliminate all medical mistakes.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “Electronic records tied to fewer malpractice claims,” Genevra Pittman (Reuters Health) June 26, 2012