Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 39 (4):640-648 (2011)

Medical records contain important clues about the history of medicine. These documents, which ostensibly describe the course of a patient's illness, are “unique constructions that allow us to observe the social and technical structure of contemporary healing.” As such, the 21st-century hospital medical record reflects the many components of inpatient care: medical interventions, billing, legal documentation, research, and education. It is comprised of a wide array of elements: professionals' notes; vital signs and other descriptive information; laboratory data and test results; demographic information; orders, charges, diagnostic and treatment codes; and other utilization data. It is well understood that many people share and need this information. Current controversies over records involve not control, but computerization, security, and accessibility. Although health professionals offer input, decisions about hospital medical records have been considered largely an administrative responsibility.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1748-720x.2011.00631.x
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