The state of the art?

Speaking last week at the American Medical Informatics Association‘s spring congress in Boston, Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) mentioned that he had just come from Massachusetts General Hospital for testing on a slipped disc in his back.

As is widely known, the esteemed, Harvard-affiliated hospital has electronic medical records, computerized physician order entry, digital imaging and other advanced information technology.

Still, when Kennedy arrived for the test, he was given a clipboard with a paper history form to fill out.

Had he been admitted as an inpatient, Kennedy also would have found that most departments at Mass General keep vital signs very close to their patients—in a paper folder at the foot of each bed.

This is supposed to be the state of the art?