As Dr Alspach pointed out in her February 2011 editorial, family history assessment is an important, inexpensive, and often underutilized genetic tool. I recently studied family history assessment and documentation in 3 gastroenterology units and found deficiencies. Others have noted deficits in these areas as well. For example, according to the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetics Health and Society Draft Report on Genetics Education and Training,(p15) “family history proficiency is not a competency required in order to graduate from a medical education program,” and only “22 percent of 46 Advanced Practice Nursing students in nurse practitioner programs felt they could draw a family pedigree.”

Accurate documentation of nursing care and patient histories has long been a challenge. We all had hoped that the electronic health record (EHR) would facilitate assessment and documentation. Unfortunately for many health care systems, this...

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