Friday, January 02, 2009

Does EMR adoption decrease malpractice payouts?

Boy, wouldn’t that be something! Well, if you believe this report from AAFP News you might just think it was true:

Physicians who say they can't afford to purchase an electronic health record, or EHR, system may want to evaluate new research that suggests physician practices that use EHRs have fewer paid malpractice claims.

The report cites this study from Archives of Internal Medicine which shows that, yes, EMR adopters seem to pay out less in malpractice claims. It goes on to spin the study as something that might “tip the scale” toward a decision to adopt the EMR.

So, does this study prove that EMRs decrease payouts? All things being equal, no. It seems AAFP news left out this little detail from the paper:

In logistic regression analysis controlling for sex, race, year of medical school graduation, specialty, and practice size, the relationship between EHR adoption and paid malpractice settlements was of smaller magnitude and no longer statistically significant (adjusted odds ratio, 0.69; 95% confidence interval, 0.40-1.20; P = .18).

It’s a good thing EMRs don’t have to meet the same evidentiary standard that new drugs do! Despite the cheerleading for EMRs there’s still not a shred of evidence they have a beneficial impact on outcomes that matter.

As a user of the EMR I believe we have a long, long way to go before the benefits outweigh the unintended consequences.

Via RangelMD.

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