If you haven’t heard by now, President Obama wants the industry to move to electronic medical records by 2014 as part of his health care package (source). While the politicians debate the merits of the proposed changes the EMS community should have one thing in mind: “How does this affect us?” Should this change go through it will mean that, at some point, people will look at if and how EMS agencies can be integrated. This means that some form of Electronic Patient Care Report (ePCR) is likely to become the norm on emergency calls.
“Do no harm” is a tenet of Emergency and traditional medicine, yet sometimes we can be our own worst enemies. Such is certainly the case with Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs), which affect 1 in 20 hospital patients a year and cost an estimated $4.5 billion annually1. An HAI is any infection that occurs while a person is in the care of a medical institution, and while it most commonly occurs in a hospital facility, there is no reason EMS providers should not do their part in reducing the chances of this condition occurring. A major drive to educate the industry about the dangers of HAIs is the “Not on my Watch” campaign sponsored by Kimberly-Clarke. Their website (http://www.haiwatch.com/) offers tools and educational opportunities to help eliminate this threat.
There is a veteran fire fighter that I’ve run across that, as is the case with many senior members, loves to quiz the rookies. One of his favorite questions is the deceptively simple “What is the most important job on the fireground?” Typically newbies stumble through a variety of reasonable answers such as “The hose team; can’t put the fire out without water.” or “Search; we have to save lives.”, but none of those are the answers the vet is looking for. After a few minutes he will always clue the kid into the correct answer. “The most important job on the fireground is the one to which you are assigned.”
It seems like the stuff of science fiction, a device which can record a person’s vital signs, through the air, from up to 40 feet away. However, it’s not science fiction, it’s a real device called the Standoff Patient Triage Tool (SPTT) which is being developed by Tech Solutions, a research arm of the Department of Homeland Security.