J Am Med Inform Assoc 4:342-355 doi:10.1136/jamia.1997.0040342
  • The Practice of Informatics
  • Review

Accuracy of Data in Computer-based Patient Records

  1. William R Hogan,
  2. Michael M Wagner
  1. Affiliation of the authors: Center for Biomedical Informatics, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
  1. Correspondence and reprints: William R. Hogan, MD, Center for Biomedical Informatics, Suite 8084 Forbes Tower, 200 Lothrop Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213-2582.E-mail:wrh3+{at}
  • Received 17 January 1997
  • Accepted 19 May 1997


Data in computer-based patient records (CPRs) have many uses beyond their primary role in patient care, including research and health-system management. Although the accuracy of CPR data directly affects these applications, there has been only sporadic interest in, and no previous review of, data accuracy in CPRs. This paper reviews the published studies of data accuracy in CPRs. These studies report highly variable levels of accuracy. This variability stems from differences in study design, in types of data studied, and in the CPRs themselves. These differences confound interpretation of this literature. We conclude that our knowledge of data accuracy in CPRs is not commensurate with its importance and further studies are needed. We propose methodological guidelines for studying accuracy that address shortcomings of the current literature. As CPR data are used increasingly for research, methods used in research databases to continuously monitor and improve accuracy should be applied to CPRs.


  • This research was partially supported by grant LM07059-10 from the National Library of Medicine.

  • * Many authors use “accuracy” to refer only to the measure of correctness. We use the term to refer not to just the measure of correctness, but more generally to encompass both measures—correctness and completeness. Other synonyms for correctness in the data accuracy literature include reliability and validity.

  • Specifically, the MEDLINE search logic was (( AND (expINFORMATION SYSTEMS)).

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