by Rose Rohloff
The 2009 HITECH Act and the Center for Medicare Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Meaningful Use regulations caused a massive spend for electronic medical records (EMRs), the push for interoperability, as the solution to healthcare quality. However, EMRs are not solutions - along with massive IT overhead spend with decreasing quality - because in a high percent of instances, nurses and doctors don’t even read them.
A 40-year old mother went to the doctor after treating herself holistically for some laryngitis, stuffy nose, congested sinus, with continued symptoms after five days. After an exam, the doctor stated, “I am not going to give you antibiotics. You do not have a fever; your lungs sound clear. It looks like a little virus with severe allergies. I recommend an antihistamine.” The patient told him, “Thank you for not putting me on antibiotics when they are not needed, that makes me happy.” He responded, “I am glad you are glad.”
He then said something and the patient responded, “I have MS.” He responded, “Oh wait, you have Multiple Sclerosis?”
This story is sadly too often the new normal, numerous instances of patients and their caregivers stating issues of diagnosing with medication prescription, or misdiagnosis; the doctor or nurse having no idea of pre-existing conditions or a full list of medications currently being taken, a lack of care coordination or care planning because the time was not taken to simply read the chart (whether written or electronic), and ensuring a comprehensive history followed by the necessary physical assessment.
No physician or nurse should walk in to care for a patient without first having read the patient’s record, knowing all current information, the last visit/healthcare encounter, chronic conditions/comorbidities, and all medications; then, asking for updates of changes. Unfortunately, even without having to decipher poor handwriting, being able to read clean typed text, clinicians are not simply reading the basics of information they should before doing any diagnosis, planning and care, or prescribing of medications.
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