Views & Reviews Personal View

Paperless records are not in the best interest of every patient

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 03 April 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2064
  1. Rupert Fawdry, honorary consultant obstetrician, University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust, University Hospital, Clifford Bridge Road, Coventry CV2 2DX
  1. rupertfawdry{at}

Rupert Fawdry says that a unified paper record of health and social care would improve communication among professionals and institutions

Pregnant women throughout Britain have a paper care record that is openly readable, easily updatable, and immediately correctable. I assumed that housebound patients would have something similar. With so many comorbidities, when else would a single paper record make such sense? My 99 year old mother’s recent experience highlighted my naivety.

She still lives in her own home. Besides friends and family, those involved in her care include her family doctor, district nurses, several social care departments, Age UK, and a private home care company. These provide food, company, and help with complex medication. But each party insists on a separate set of records, making it necessary at my every visit to check four binders without bookmarks, two separate drug charts, and several huge ambulance forms of mind boggling complexity.

My suggestion that a unified system of care records might be better has been met with such comments as, “We don’t have permission to write in each other’s notes,” and, “We’re not sure if we’re even allowed to look at documentation created by others.”

Recently, after one …

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