A group of Massachusetts physicians saw a dramatic drop in malpractice claims after implementing electronic health-record systems, according to a research letter published by the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Researchers from Harvard-affiliated organizations—including the Harvard Pilgrim health plan and Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates—merged closed claims data from a Massachusetts malpractice insurer for the years 1995 to 2007 with data from a random sample of physicians surveyed in 2005 and 2007. Researchers said 275 doctors were surveyed in 2005 and 189 were surveyed in both years. Among the latter group, just over 14% reported having been sued at least once.
The study found 51 unique malpractice claims, with 49 reported before EHR implementation and only two after. Thirteen of the pre-EHR claims resulted in payments, while the two identified as occurring post-implementation did not. General surgeons accounted for 13 (27%) of the pre-adoption claims, while internists and orthopedic surgeons each had one of the post-adoption claims.