recordTarget is the XML element in the CDA Header that represents the patient that is the subject of the CDA document.

recordTarget in CDA
recordTarget is located directly under the XML root element, ClinicalDocument.

There can be more than one recordTarget in a CDA document. This is relevant under special circumstances where a single CDA document goes into multiple patient records (for example, a birth that is relevant for the patient record of both the mother and baby). Usually, though, there is only one recordTarget in a CDA document.

It may not seem intuitive that the name for the XML element that contains patient information is recordTarget. The reason for this is that recordTarget is a participation element. Formally, the patient (more precisely, the “patient role”) participates in the clinical document as the “target of the medical record” (the medical record into which the document is supposed to go) – hence the name recordTarget.

recordTarget XML Structure
Understanding recordTarget requires familiarity with the CDA concept of entities and roles, as well as the related topics of participation elements and scoping elements.

The patient information role and entity XML elements are named patientRole and patient, respectively. The scoping XML element of the patient role is named providerOrgazization.

The overall structure of the recordTarget element in terms of participation, role, entity, and scope, is shown below:

Refer to The patientRole element, The patient element, and The providerOrganization element, for additional information about the patientRole, patient, and providerOrganization elements.

recordTarget XML Sub-Elements
The first three sub-elements of recordTarget are the three common sub-elements of most CDA elements.

This is followed by the patientRole element, which is the primary content of recordTarget – as noted, recordTarget is a participation element linking patientRole to the root ClinicalDocument element of the CDA document.

recordTarget XML Attributes
recordTarget has an implicit contextControlCode attribute. Refer to Inheriting context in a CDA document, for an explanation of why there is no need to explicitly declare this attribute.

Similarly, recordTarget has an implicit typeCode attribute – which has a fixed (default) value of “RCT”. Commonly in XML syntax, when there is a fixed, default value for an attribute, that attribute is left out of the element in the XML document.

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