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How my EMR helped—though almost hurt—me.

April 20, 2009
by stacey
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I’m not just in favor of EMRs and patients communicating with clinicians via e-mail, in a theoretical sense, I actually do it. However, as much as doing so has been a tremendous plus with phenomenally fast turn-around times (sometimes seconds) any day of the week, any hour of the day (after 11 p.m.; before dawn), I’m a little nervous. Not nervous that my doctors and nurses who know me well will give me wrong information, but nervous that ones who don’t, will. I recently started taking a new drug. And while most people start taking the drug at 1/6th of what will later become their normal dose, I started at full-strength. True, it’s atypical at the high dose, but it’s the dose that’s right for me. But on the day I received the drug, the nurse who was supposed to train me on how to administer it called at 9:30 p.m. and informed me things had changed. She said I had the wrong dose. She told me that she was reading the notes in my record, just as she was chatting with me on the phone, and that my doctor had changed things. I told her that the doctor was very clear with me about what dose I’d be taking. Still, she told me, I had to be wrong. To be safe though, she said she understood when I told her I’d need to verify what she was saying with my doctor the next day. Turns out, I was right. How did I find out what strength to take? I e-mailed my doctor.

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Comments

The concept of 'unified communication and collaboration' sounds great. We've obviously got a ways to go.

True, we are a long, long way from this type of communication, though it sure would be nice if and when it happens. And true, too, with proper flags and alerts things would go much smoother. In fact, it was actually the pharmacy who alerted the drug company who alterted the nurse.

Interesting story. I can at least have a little sympathy for the nurse. She was trying to do the right thing. She thought the doctor made a mistake and she didn't want you to take a dose that she could not believe was correct. I think we'd all like our caregivers to be that vigilant and observant. Perhaps when an order is that far out of the norm, the doctor should anticipate it being flagged and confirm it with the nurse beforehand.

stacey

Stacey Kramer is Managing Editor of Healthcare Informatics. She writes feature stories and...