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Finding and Using Health Statistics

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Medical Records

Medical records are used to track events and transactions between patients and health care providers. They offer information on diagnoses, procedures, lab tests, and other services. Medical records help us measure and analyze trends in health care use, patient characteristics, and quality of care.

Electronic health records (EHR) were first introduced in the 1960s, but only became popular recently, in part due to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Affordable Care Act. EHRs can make it easier for providers to enter information about patients. The data from EHRs can then be used for research, like comparing how effective providers are, and seeing how patients respond to treatment. In the U.S., patient privacy is still protected even with the use of EHRs by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), enforced by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the HHS.

Medical records are usually accurate and detailed because they come from health care providers. The data are automatically collected, including information that patients might not think to add or feel comfortable sharing through other data sources like surveys. But, because the information is written down in a specific context, it can be misinterpreted if taken out of context. And of course, medical records are (by definition) only available for people who are able to get medical care.

This chart shows statistics based on information from patient medical records.


 

Hospital discharges by first-listed diagnosis among children: US, 1990-2010 (Source: NHDS)

Other: Year (2008-2010), Measure (Rate per 10,000), Statistic (Estimate), Location (U.S.), Sex (All)

Age
Diagnosis
All ages 0-17 0-4 5-17 5-9 10-17
All Diagnoses 1,165.3 337.6 585.1 238.6 167.2 283.8
Infectious and parasitic diseases 42.7 16.7 * 7.3 8.3 6.7
Septicemia 24.5 1.8 4.4 * * *
Cancer, all 41.6 * * * * *
Endocrine, nutritional and metabolic disorders 59.3 18.9 * 12.4 11.1 13.2
-Diabetes 21.2 3.9 * 5.0 * 6.3
-Dehydration 10.9 9.1 23.3 3.3 4.7 2.5
Anemias 13.4 4.0 4.2 4.0 2.6 4.9
Mental disorders 68.2 32.0 * 44.0 12.6 63.8
-Alcohol and drug 14.4 1.5 * 2.1 * 3.4
Nervous system disorders 33.0 15.8< 28.0 * 10.8 *
Circulatory system disorders 197.3 * * * * *
-Heart disease 127.9 * * * * *
--Arrhythmias 26.1 0.6 * * * *
--Heart failure 33.8 * * * * *
Respiratory system disorders 116.0 73.4 183.8 29.3 42.8 20.8
-Acute bronchitis and bronchiolitis 5.5 15.8 54.2 * * *
-Pneumonia 38.2 21.8 53.9 9.0 14.8 5.3
-Asthma 14.9 18.5 36.2 11.4 17.9 7.2
Digestive system disorders 114.7 29.2 38.1 25.7 * 28.6
-Appendicitis 9.3 10.4 * 13.5 * 14.2
-Inflammatory bowel disease 3.2 0.8 * 1.1 * 1.6
-Intestinal obstruction without mention of hernia 11.3 1.8 * * * *
Genitourinary system disorders 69.6 11.2 19.1 8.0 6.1 9.1
-Kidney disease 18.3 1.3 * 1.1 * *
-Urinary tract infection 17.9 2.9 7.7 1.0 * 0.9
Cellulitis and abscess 22.8 10.0 21.1 5.6 6.0 5.3
Musculoskeletal system and connective tissues disorders 72.6 5.9 3.7 6.8 4.2 8.5
Injuries and poisoning 64.7 24.7 25.6 24.4 14.9 30.3
-Fracture 36.1 10.6 9.8 10.9 8.0 12.7
Certain complications of surgical and medical care 34.2 5.3 7.7 * * 4.5

This chart shows the hospital discharges by first-listed diagnosis among children in the United States from 1990-2010. This information is gained from medical records.
* signifies unreliable data. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. Health Data.

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Last Reviewed: February 6, 2019