Accuracy of data in computer-based patient records

J Am Med Inform Assoc. 1997 Sep-Oct;4(5):342-55. doi: 10.1136/jamia.1997.0040342.


Data in computer-based patient records (CPRs) have many uses beyond their primary role in patient care, including research and health-system management. Although the accuracy of CPR data directly affects these applications, there has been only sporadic interest in, and no previous review of, data accuracy in CPRs. This paper reviews the published studies of data accuracy in CPRs. These studies report highly variable levels of accuracy. This variability stems from differences in study design, in types of data studied, and in the CPRs themselves. These differences confound interpretation of this literature. We conclude that our knowledge of data accuracy in CPRs is not commensurate with its importance and further studies are needed. We propose methodological guidelines for studying accuracy that address shortcomings of the current literature. As CPR data are used increasingly for research, methods used in research databases to continuously monitor and improve accuracy should be applied to CPRs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Forms and Records Control / methods*
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized / standards*
  • Quality Control
  • Research Design
  • United States