by KYW’s medical editor Dr. Brian McDonough
There is a great deal of conversation surrounding the wonders of electronic medical records and the revolution in health care, but medical technology is no different than any other form of technology. What technology gives technology takes away.
A great example are order sets. Let me explain: when a patient arrives in the emergency room and is admitted to the hospital there have to be orders written to deal with everything from the labs that are ordered to the medications you take to the doctors who are called as consultants. Over the years the writing of orders has been passed down from doctor to doctor as a thoughtful exercise in planning and care.
With technological advances, order sets have been developed that can be seen on the computer screen. The advantages are numerous including legibility and easy access to drugs and side effects. But the problem is that in a computer world of clicking boxes much of the human element of thought can go away—-a wrong click here or extra reliance on the computer there and a wrong order can be written or transcribed.
There is no doubt that electronic medical records is the way to go but don’t think it will be perfect—humans write the programs and humans click the buttons. There is still a need for one of the most valuable tools in medicine–attention to detail.