RI tracking swine flu through electronic records

October 25, 2009 By ERIC TUCKER , Associated Press Writer

(AP) -- Rhode Island health officials are using electronic prescription records to track the spread of swine flu.

The data is being provided by Surescripts, which operates the country's largest electronic prescriptions network. It is expected to show which communities are experiencing outbreaks or are hardest hit.

Officials say it can also reveal cases in which the medicine may be inappropriately or overzealously prescribed.

A spokesman for Surescripts says is believed to be the first state to use electronic pharmacy prescription data to track among its entire population.

President Obama has declared the swine a national emergency. National health authorities say more than 1,000 people have died from the strain known as H1N1, and 46 states have widespread flu activity.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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