Qual Saf Health Care 13:170-171 doi:10.1136/qshc.2003.009712
  • Commentary
  • Drug related morbidity

Safety from numbers: identifying drug related morbidity using electronic records in primary care

  1. G Elwyn
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor G Elwyn
 Primary Care Research Group, University of Wales Swansea Clinical School, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK;

    The use of electronic clinical data to identify temporal associations between drug prescribing and patient morbidity

    The benefits of creating a searchable patient record are slowly emerging, although it is arguable that progress has been significantly delayed by system designs that failed to focus on overall aims. It is well recognised that it is easier to enter data into clinical systems than to analyse them in order to answer questions about quality, care patterns, longitudinal trends, drug interactions, and patient safety. Although clinical information systems have slowly evolved to provide more user friendly interfaces, they still struggle with two important areas: data coding and pattern analysis. The next logical step—to mine datasets and present meaningful data patterns using visualisation techniques—has hardly been tackled. Nevertheless, researchers are slowly negotiating the rocky path from clinical data to information to knowledge.

    An important inherent ability of clinical information systems is to signal possible linkages between events: to alert health professionals to be vigilant …

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