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Prepared Patient: Taking Charge of Your Health Records
Wednesday, January 02, 2013 | Becky Ham, PREPARED PATIENT BLOG

File folders, marching across the shelves in an orderly line behind the receptionist's desk, may be the first thing you see when you sign in for a doctor's appointment. While it's tempting to believe that your personal health history is neatly contained within one of those folders, the truth is far more troubling.

Paperwork from every doctor visit, every lab test, every hospital stay, and every prescription refill'the essential pieces of information that can keep you healthy and in some cases avert a major medical mistake'is scattered in cabinets and computers across the country. Although various proposals to overhaul the U.S. health care system would create a standard, electronic database of medical records for all physicians, such a system is still decades in the making. Currently only about 17 percent of U.S. physicians are using computerized patient records, according to a recent survey published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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