Overall, electronic health records are expected to reduce medical errors, but Dean Sittig has devoted a lot of research to the ways that EHRs themselves can fail, and how to avert those failures by conducting internal audits of clinical information systems and paying attention to red flags, the way physicians do when they examine a patient.

 "A finding of 'swollen lymph nodes' during a routine physical examination should be investigated to rule out potentially serious systemic infections," says Sittig, associate professor in the School of Biomedical Informatics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. "Likewise, there are similar signs and symptoms related to potentially dangerous situations involving implementation and use of EHRs."

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