Information technology does not stop bleeding, start IVs, defibrillate the heart, or put in a breathing tube. In an emergency, those are the things that save your life. If you need them, the doctor does not have time to look at your EMR.
In an emergency, the doctor needs to know your blood sugar NOW, not what it was 6 months ago. Ditto for your chest xray. If the test needs to be done STAT, the old results are probably irrelevant, and if it doesn’t need to be done STAT, there’s time to make a phone call and ask for a faxed report.
The most important information in an emergency is what just happened to you, and that will not be in your EMR.
If you have a serious allergy or other problem that your doctor needs to know in an emergency, wear a MedicAlert bracelet or something else attached to your body. In a bad emergency, your ID may be lost, the computer may be down, or the power may be off.
The EMR is being promoted for the convenience of bureaucrats and lawyers, and for the profits of vendors. Sometimes it helps doctors; sometimes it’s a hindrance. Only the doctor can decide.
The EMR costs a huge amount of money, and the costs never stop. It might save a few dollars in preventing unnecessary tests for people who have bad memories or can’t keep track of paper records.
The whole record could be destroyed by a power surge (especially if it’s an electromagnetic pulse or EMP). Or it could become unreadable; tapes, disks, and other media become obsolete and are not necessarily durable. On the other hand, it can be nearly impossible to extirpate errors.
The EMR may prevent some errors, but introduce others, especially ones caused by identity theft, sloppy data entry, poor typing skills, confusing software, dry-labbed information entry by macro, and failure to check data once entered. It could even kill you.
EMR systems are a nonconsented experiment, the results of which may be kept secret by the vendors.
If you’re desperately ill or critically injured, you need a doctor, not a computer. Your doctor needs to be able to keep his records in a way that works for him, and to choose his own tools, computers included.
- “The Syndrome of Inappropriate Overconfidence in Computing: an Invasion of Medicine by the Information Technology Industry” by Scot M. Silverstein, M.D., J Am Phys Surg, Summer 2009.
- “EMR: a Nonconsented Experiment,” AAPS News, July 2008.
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