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How safe are electronic health records (EHRs)?

Any health record -- paper-based or electronic -- is only as good as the information it contains and how that information is used. On their own, EHRs will not eliminate all medical errors and cannot ensure that patients always get the most effective treatment. Computerized systems, in health care as in any other area, are not perfect. For example, the EHR used by one group of doctors or hospitals may not communicate easily with the system used by another provider group. The federal government is trying to solve this problem with financial incentives that encourage the development of systems that work together.

For providers, changing from paper-based to electronic systems represents an enormous undertaking. In some ways, it’s like switching from an old-fashioned typewriter to a word processor. Not surprisingly, the complexity of the transition can itself create problems for some patients. Regardless of how your records are stored today and will be stored tomorrow, partnering with your doctor and remaining engaged in every aspect of your health and health care are important.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.