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Electronic heath records result in fewer malpractice claims

For Marylanders who are familiar with the emotional pain and financial problems that medical errors can cause, the results of a new study may be interesting. According to a recent study conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School, the implementation of electronic health records may lead to a significant reduction in medical errors and, consequently, the need for medical malpractice claims.

While the results are still being studied, initial findings suggest that EHRs could reduce medical malpractice claims by nearly six times their current rate. If these results are truly reflective of increased accuracy and reduced errors by medical professionals, the results are undeniably good news for patients who deserve safe and effective medical care. However, there is some chance that a portion of the results are accounted for by other factors. For instance, it is possible that medical practices that implemented EHRs had preestablished habits that reduced their medical errors, thereby skewing the results.

Based partially on studies such as this one, some hope that the use of EHRs will increase and that current technology will improve. For example, EHRs could expand to automatically check new prescriptions against existing ones, therefore providing another layer of safety against some prescription errors.

Yet, it is important to remember that these technological advancements are necessary precisely because medical errors do occur. Negligence can occur in the medical industry just as it does in other fields. While medical professionals take precautions against these errors, sometimes they do occur and can result in debilitating errors. Misdiagnosis can result in serious injury or, in certain circumstances, even death.

While EHRs can hopefully reduce the number of those who suffer from medical malpractice, those who are the victims of medical errors and deserve compensation may still be able to pursue medical malpractice claims..

Source: Information Week, "EHRs May Reduce Medical Malpractice Claims," Nicole Lewis, July 2, 2012

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