There are a variety of ethical and legal issues that arise with the growing use of health information technology in clinical settings. While privacy and confidentiality of information is an important consideration in any electronic system, some of the issues related to using these systems to improve patient safety include changes to the standard of care in regard to using electronic rather than paper medical records, user training, and assuring accurate information is in the medical record and provided to users. There are other unique issues involved with the use of clinical decision support tools, exchange of health information across institutions, and the incorporation of genomic information into the clinical record. Informed consent for exchange of information as well as for the use of specialized tools will also be important to address. Health care information technology is rapidly improving and momentum is building for its expanded implementation. Strategies need to be developed to maximize the benefits of health information technology while minimizing the risks of harm associated with its implementation. The ethical issues raised in this article need to be addressed if the enormous potential of these systems to improve patient safety and quality of care is to be realized. © Springer 2008.