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New Mexico Considers New Electronic Medical Records Law

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The New Mexico Legislature is considering an electronic medical record initiative of Governor Bill Richardson's that would protect patients' privacy. Sen. Peter Wirth introduced SB 278, the Electronic Medical Records Act that would require security and privacy protections associated with the use of electronic medical records.

Governor Richardson has supported moving from paper to electronic records during his administration as a way to control costs, reduce errors, and increase quality. "Electronic medical records are a great advancement in patient care in New Mexico," Governor Richardson said. "As more providers use electronic medical records, it is critical to protect the privacy of these records."

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The Electronic Medical Records Act would allow individuals to request that their records be excluded from a record locator service and that the service provide a log indicating who has accessed a client's medical record and for what purpose. The act would also establish electronic medical records systems as the legal equivalent of existing non-electronic medical records.

"Having an electronic medical records system allows providers to spend more time seeing patients and give patients better overall services," Health Secretary Dr. Alfredo Vigil. "This new law will help encourage providers to use electronic records knowing that their patients' information is confidential."

The New Mexico Department of Health is now using electronic medical records in all public health offices around the state. The records allow the Department's public health staff to analyze and tailor services to match the needs of patients. The Department of Health also helped 122 providers in 36 communities set up an electronic medical records system in their practice.