Research Activities, November-December 2013
Malpractice claim rates not significantly different between physicians who use electronic health record systems and nonusers
Health Information Technology
Incidence of malpractice claims for physicians using electronic health records (EHRs) between 1999 and 2009 was not significantly different from that of physicians who did not use EHR systems, after adjusting for other factors affecting such claims.
The researchers conducted the study among all office-based physicians in Colorado to determine whether EHR use was associated with reduced malpractice claims. If true, this would help justify the Federal authorization of $27 billion to support physician adoption of EHR systems, and argue for a credit against liability insurance premiums for physicians using EHRs. However, the likelihood of malpractice claims for EHR users was a nonsignificant 12 percent lower than for nonusers.
When the researchers compared the likelihood of claim incidence for users before introducing an EHR system and afterwards, EHR introduction was associated with a nonsignificant 27 percent decline in the likelihood of a malpractice claim. During the period before EHR use, 633 physicians cumulatively had 6 plausibly EHR-sensitive claims in contrast to 251 physicians having 2 such claims when their EHR was in use. This came to equivalent incidence of 0.01 plausibly EHR-sensitive malpractice claims per physician EHR users per 10 years of liability coverage, whether or not an EHR system was in use.
The findings were based on responses to surveys sent to 3,502 office-based physicians during November and December 2009 and analysis of 1,627 malpractice claims filed and electronically available from 1999 through 2009. The study was funded in part by AHRQ (HS19464).
More details are in "Impact of electronic health records on malpractice claims in a sample of physician offices in Colorado: A retrospective cohort study," by Michael S. Victoroff, M.D., Barbara M. Drury, B.A., Elizabeth J. Campagna, M.S., PStat®, and Elaine H. Morrato, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., C.P.H., in the May 2013 Journal of General Internal Medicine 28(5), pp. 637-644.