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Linking patient records between hospitals and medical flight crews: A milestone in clinical decision making and management

online medical recordsStatistics show that non-urgent medical conditions have a higher mortality rate when transferred to another facility as compared to if they just remained where they were. This is according to a research done by Case Western Reserve University’s nursing school.

In the expert opinion of Dr. Andrew Reimer, RN, KL2 Scholar instructor at the Dorothy Ebersbach Academic Center for Flight Nursing at Case Western Reserve University’s Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, the root of the cause might be in the availability of the medical records of the patient.

Accessing the online medical records of the patients from different hospitals is difficult since the patient’s information is encoded differently between systems and almost always, has different platforms which make the data unreadable and inaccessible.

This problem is the target of a research led by Reimer together with Case Western Reserve engineering and biostatistics experts. It hopes to address the problems of communication in online medicine and serves to create quicker access to the necessary information from patient’s charts.

When transferring patients, a new chart is generated by the flight medical crew. The chart from the medical team during the flight and the chart from the hospitals needed to be reviewed and evaluated to determine if the patient needs to be moved and what are the necessary precautions to be taken care of during the flight transfer.

The medical data of the patients are collected and kept in a local data warehouse. These data include the patient’s demographics, clinical history, the procedures the patient underwent, laboratories done and the respective results and the medications taken and given among others. Since the patients transported belong to different age groups and have different characteristics, the researchers have produced a digital template which has 42 areas of information which aims to aid in maintaining the consistency and the integrity of the medical report.

The processes, elements needed to integrate the medical records and the reason behind the need to have access to electronic medical records are relayed in the article “Developing a Fully Integrated Medical Transport Record to Support Comparative Effectiveness Research for Patients Undergoing Medical Transport,” published in the eGEMs. The article was authored by Reimer and Elizabeth Madigan, professor of nursing and associate dean for academic affairs.

This research was focused on having access to the patient’s medical records which may eventually help in deciding whether to transfer the patient or not. This has a potential in building a national electronic medical records system for faster and more efficient access to patient’s medical information during flight transfers and eventually improve the patient outcome.

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