Not only is the Ebola scare putting Americans on edge, it’s also putting a strain on the country’s e-health records (EHR) system.
The disease’s first casualty, Thomas Duncan of Dallas, TX, failed to alert doctors to the Ebola until it was too late. A look into the admitting hospital’s EHR system discovered that the nurse on duty failed to include the fact that Duncan had just been from Liberia, an Ebola hotbed. The investigation also uncovered differences in workflows, Computerworld’s Lucas Mearian reports.
Hospital officials initially indicated that a nurse may have failed to tell the emergency room doctor about Duncan’s recent trip to Liberia. Then hospital officials blamed a “flaw” in the hospital’s EHR system for not communicating the information that had been inputted by the nurse.
“We have identified a flaw in the way the physician and nursing portions of our electronic health records (EHR) interacted in this specific case. In our electronic health records, there are separate physician and nursing workflows,” the statement reads.
So far, Duncan is the first recorded case of Ebola in the U.S., but the epidemic’s not over yet. It becomes important for hospitals and medical facilities to alert the country of an Ebola outbreak should it happen. This can be done through proper document management and a streamlined workflow, both of which are offered by Albuquerque computer network services.
This isn’t the first time EHRs have spearheaded the defense of the homeland from biological threats. For years, they’ve also been used to track other diseases like AIDS, syphilis, asthma, and influenza, as well as spot possible bioterrorist attacks. Since the shift from paper records to electronic files, medical facilities across the country have shared information with ease.
In New Mexico, this system proved its worth during the salmonella outbreak of 2008. Using a website that compiles reports, discussions, and health records, state and federal officials were able to respond to the outbreak effectively. States adjacent to hard-hit ones were able to keep the outbreak’s effects from getting worse.
In short, a simple task like scanning health records and placing them under a state-of-the-art document management system can save lives. With the right equipment and techniques from an Albuquerque computer network service like Albuquerque Image Products, you can react to any outbreak that knocks on your door and alert others to it.
(Source: “Are e-health records at fault for Ebola mistakes?” Computerworld, October 8, 2014)