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Sunday, September 12th 2010

The Downside of EMR

I love electronic health records. To be honest I don’t know how physicians functioned before them. Imagine having results coming back on 10 patients at various points throughout the day and not getting to any of it until the next day. I’m sure it was functional, if less efficient.

But there’s a downside. Namely when the EMR system goes down, it’s not like the entire health care organization returns fluently to the good ol’ days of paper records and reporting. At least in my experience.

A couple of weeks ago the county hospital that is my primary training ground shut down the EMR system in it’s entirety for 24-hours of maintenance and upgrades. The time I spent tracking down labs, talking to the radiologists (when everyone else is trying to), having to haul myself to the actual nursing stations of the 6 different floors my patients were on to put in orders was painful. So is the fact that the half dozen consult notes I hand wrote are essentially lost forever. Nevermind the fact that when faced with the time constraints of a busy weekend on call my notes on paper became decidedly less detailed; which is probably never a good thing.

That said, except for scheduled outages, the EMR systems I have worked with have had decidedly few ‘hiccups’.

I love electronic records and order systems and PACS.