Can an EHR reduce the threat of a malpractice suit?

October 1, 2007

To get physicians' opinions on that questions, Medical Economics magazine and The Doctors Co., a physician-owned medical malpractice company, surveyed physicians around the country via e-mail and a link posted on the Medical Economics Web site. The survey received 548 responses, including 49.6% representing family practitioners, internists, and ob/gyns.

To get physicians' opinions on that questions, Medical Economics magazine and The Doctors Co., a physician-owned medical malpractice company, surveyed physicians around the country via e-mail and a link posted on the Medical Economics Web site. The survey received 548 responses, including 49.6% representing family practitioners, internists, and ob/gyns.

Based on the responses, 35.5% of physicians have an electronic health record (EHR) system in place and another 29.5% plan to implement one by the end of 2007. Respondents cited better documentation, improved quality of care, and more timely access to records as the top three reasons for getting an EHR system. Discounts on malpractice insurance and an improved ability to defend themselves in a malpractice suit were the bottom two reasons.

Asked which EHR feature could help decrease their medical malpractice risk, respondents cited comprehensive records, automatic alerts, and instant access to records. On the other hand, system crashes that lead to the temporary loss of records and the distraction of having to chart electronically were cited as elements that could put physicians at greater malpractice risk.