Here is a beautiful new piece of research that can only lead to trouble. By analyzing data in patient records in the EMR, scientists in Boston say they were able to identify likely victims of domestic abuse an average of two years before a diagnosis was actually made. The risk factors for women were trips to the hospital to treat injuries, poisoning, and alcoholism. For men, it was depression and psychosis. There are many issues going on in this study. In the future, will we be aggressively questioning every patient that the computer tells us may be be at risk? It sounds good but it could go bad....quickly. While we are at it, why don't we have cops waiting for their spouses at the next appointment? They can be arrested even before the crime happens like they do in the movie Minority Report.
I am for the benefits of EMR but this is just one one of thousands of studies to start coming out where patietns records are hyper-analyzed in order to find some little possible nugget. They are calling it "predictive medicine". It is also a way for these researchers to easily get published. The problem is may lead to more and more "screening" tools that just take away from the art of medicine by physicians.