Do electronic health records reduce or increase physicians' liability risk?

February 1, 2010

Because some practices have been slow to adopt electronic health records, scant evidence exists to support the commonly held notion that EHRs help mitigate liability risk, according to a published report in American Medical News.

Because some practices have been slow to adopt electronic health records (EHRs), scant evidence exists to support the commonly held notion that EHRs help mitigate liability risk, according to a published report in American Medical News. Some observers think that EHRs may actually expose doctors to additional risk.

Nonetheless, a 2007 survey of 115 practices cosponsored by Professional Risk Associates found that 45% of practices believe that EHRs will make them less vulnerable to liability cases. One-fifth of respondents said that they have had a liability case in which an EHR was used for documentation, and more than half of those respondents thought that the EHR was helpful.

Some observers believe that EHRs will reduce the number of liability claims-which also will reduce liability insurance premiums-only when the technology is widely adopted, creating a strong network and improvements in quality and safety. Not only will fewer cases proceed to litigation, these observers note, but EHRs could lower the cost of bringing a case to court by reducing the time it takes to prepare for or conduct a deposition.

Dolan PL. Do EMRs cut liability risk? Insurers want evidence before offering more discounts. http://Amednews.com/. http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2009/11/30/bica1130.htm. Accessed January 29, 2010.