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Panel Set to Study Safety of Electronic Patient Data

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Medical records

A family clinic in Walsenburg, Colo., is part of the Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center, which planned to adopt an electronic health records system.

John Moore / Getty Images

Almost two years ago, President Obama pledged $19 billion in stimulus incentives to help convert the nation’s doctors and hospitals to using a paperless system of electronic health records intended to improve the quality of care and reduce costs. But the conversion is still a slow work in progress.

Only about one in four doctors, mostly in large group practices, is using the electronic record system. A vast majority of physicians in small offices, the doctors who serve most Americans, still track patients’ illnesses and other problems with pen and paper.

The thousands of sometimes deadly medical errors tallied by an Institute of Medicine study in 1999 are still all too common, according to a recent report on North Carolina hospitals in the New England Journal of Medicine. And the electronic record systems are themselves increasingly attracting concerns that computer errors, design flaws and breakdowns in communication sometimes endanger patients.

From The New York Times
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