New paper from ACP examines the ethical use of EHRs and health IT

Among other conclusions, the paper asserts that EHRs should facilitate high-value, patient-centered care, strong patient-physician relationships, and effective training of future physicians.


A new ACP paper, “Ethical Implications of the Electronic Health Record: In the Service of the Patient,” addresses how EHRs can best serve the patient-physician relationship and patient care; patient autonomy, privacy, and confidentiality; and professionalism, clinical reasoning, and training.

The paper asserts that EHRs should facilitate high-value, patient-centered care, strong patient-physician relationships, and effective training of future physicians. EHR use should assist and enhance clinical reasoning and the development of cognitive and diagnostic skills. Features such as copy-and-paste should be employed judiciously, reflect thought processes about the current patient encounter, and meet the ethical requirements for an accurate and complete medical record. The paper also addresses confidentiality issues and the risk of unauthorized disclosure and use of protected health information.

The paper was developed by ACP's Ethics, Professionalism, and Human Rights Committee, and was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine online March 20.