Electronic Trace Data and Legal Outcomes: The Effect of Electronic Medical Records on Malpractice Claim Resolution Time



Information systems generate detailed 'trace' data about what individuals do and when they do it. Trace data may affect the resolution of lawsuits by, for example, changing the time needed for legal discovery. Trace data might speed resolution by clarifying what events happened when, or they might slow resolution by generating new and potentially irrelevant data that must be analyzed. To investigate this, we analyze the effect of electronic medical records (EMRs) on malpractice claim resolution time. Use of EMRs within hospitals at the time of the alleged malpractice is associated with a four month (12%) reduction in resolution time. Because unresolved malpractice claims impose substantial costs on providers and patients, our finding that EMRs speed resolution has important welfare implications. Our study also contributes to the understanding of the effect of trace data on legal outcomes.