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As a meningitis outbreak in Tennessee grew to the point that state health department workers were having trouble keeping up with patient records, many of the hospitals involved granted the agency digital access to patient files, reports The Tennessean. The access allowed the department to more quickly monitor the treatments and conditions of patients, and the state’s epidemiologist called it “a lifesaver in terms of dealing with the complexity of the information that we were trying to handle.” Health department officials are now considering pushing legislation that would allow the agency to make similar arrangements with hospitals in cases of public health emergencies going forward.
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