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Thursday, November 24, 2005

The complications of a botched operation | Society | Michael Cross: The complications of a botched operation

Another interesting piece by Michael Cross in today's Guardian in which he argues that trying to provide national access to any patients record wherever & whenever it is needed, rather than focusing on the much more common local information transactions, may "derail" the whole NPfIT in the NHS. He makes some interesting assertions and suggests that we "may see some significant "re-scoping" soon".

However his assertion about emergency practice is wrong: "When people are run over by buses out of town, accident and emergency medicine has evolved relatively effective ways of coping without information. When that information could save a life - that famous penicillin allergy, for example - the data is better conveyed in a piece of medical alert jewellery worn next to a pulse point."

Having spent approx 15 years working in and around A&E departments I can ssure him that the uptake of medicalert bracelets and similar jewlery is very low and, even when they are worn, they are often not up to date - and frequently less legible than a doctors handwriting! In addition the information which is relevant to the patient care, for example by a GP deputising service late at night, is often more complex than can be reported on a bracelet. The availability of medical history "out of town" is a strong selling point of the NPfIT and should not be belittled as it has the potential to make a real difference to those individuals at a time of high stress and potential danger.

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  • Part of this post was used as a letter in today's Guardian Technology see:,16376,1654081,00.html

    By Rod, at 12:29 PM  

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