When Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005, more than 1800 people were killed, hundreds of thousands of families were displaced and property damage surpassed $80 billion. And medical records were lost and destroyed, making effective medical care virtually impossible.
Hurricane Sandy ripped through the northeastern U.S. in 2012 causing catastrophic damage, but lessons from Katrina helped secure the majority of medical records electronically –and save lives.
Electronic medical records are vital to modern healthcare. They help prevent medical mistakes, ensure patient safety and assist in providing quality medical care. And they really do help save lives. Here are five ways:
Follow patients: A good electronic medical record system stores records remotely and ensures proper backup so your records go where you go and don’t disappear when you need them most. In an emergency, quick and easy access to your medical history can be life-saving.
Integrate information: Electronic medical records integrate information between facilities and practitioners so everyone providing your medical care is on the same page. When doctors view information as a shared asset, they are more likely to add significant updates to your medical records that ensure you receive the individualized and effective treatment you deserve.
Improve efficiency: Looking through paper medical records wastes time and delays diagnosis and treatment. In critical care situations, you want your treatment to be fast and efficient, with no gaps in important information.
Ensure accuracy: Hand-written histories, doctor’s notes and prescriptions are a proven danger and hindrance to proper medical care. In the decades past, deaths have been directly linked to the illegible handwriting of doctors. Doctor’s orders typed into databases are less likely to be misinterpreted.
Prevent adverse interactions: Electronic medical records help detect adverse drug interactions and alert treating healthcare professionals to potential dangers. According to the Food and Drug Administration, adverse drug reactions cause some 100,000 deaths a year.