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October 1, 2009

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Electronic medical records offer hope

ELECTRONIC medical records might help doctors identify men and women most likely to be victims of domestic abuse, and perhaps some day other medical conditions, too, researchers said yesterday.

Their report, published in the British Medical Journal, found women who showed up in emergency rooms with injuries, poisoning, and alcoholism were also later likely to report domestic abuse.

For men, those treated for mental health conditions such as depression were the most likely to later be diagnosed as domestic abuse victims.

"With increasing amounts of data becoming available, this work has the potential to bring closer the vision of predictive medicine, where vast quantities of information are used to predict individuals' future medical risks in order to improve medical care and diagnosis," Dr Ben Reis of Children's Hospital Boston and colleagues wrote.

The record systems might spot patterns that a busy doctor would miss, Reis said.

His team analyzed medical records of more than 500,000 adult patients.


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