When Dean Sittig moved to Houston, he, like most drivers, was very comfortable merging to the left to get on the highway. But Houston's seven-lane freeways often require merging to the right. "I wasn't good at merging to the right, and I knew I had to be careful, especially if I was crossing multiple lanes," he says. Even after several years, he still exercises extra caution.
Sittig, professor of biomedical informatics at the University of Texas Health Science Center and a leading researcher on hazards in clinical information systems, says that with the rapid adoption of electronic health records, clinicians nationwide are having to learn to "merge to the right." They have to record and use information in unfamiliar ways that create new opportunities to make mistakes, and Sittig says extra training will go only so far.
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