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Fewer complications associated with paperless hospitals

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Doctors found patients at hospitals with electronic records, and other new technologies, suffered fewer complications and were less likely to die. Thousands of patients die in the United States each year due to medical errors. But research shows, hospitals can reduce errors by going "paperless", using electronic technology to better track patients' care. In a new study, researchers examined records for more than 160,000 patients treated at Texas hospitals. They found that hospitals with automated systems were safer for patients. Around half of the hospitals used computers to keep track of patients' test results. At some locations, doctors used electronic technology rather than a telephone call or a textbook to help them make decisions about treatments. Patients whose doctors used these automated systems had a 16% lower rate of complications. In addition, the research showed that patients at "paperless" hospitals had an overall 15% lower chance of dying, and a 55% lower risk for death from a heart-bypass operation. Experts said that computers may help prompt doctors to be thorough in keeping records, because what is left out of a patient's chart is often the greatest source of hospital errors.

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