Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Needed: New technology

Back in the late '60s, when I was in middle school, I could be found in front of the TV almost every Friday night watching William Shatner and Lenord Nimoy cruise the galaxies. I could tell you warp speed in light years per second or some such terminology because I had calculated it. Yes, I wanted to travel in outer space. To go where no person had gone before. Tonight, however, I am simply wishing for a bit for the Star Trek technology we can put to good use here on planet Earth.

Over the years, as I have practiced medicine, it occurred to me that what DeForrest Kelley was doing with that hand held scanning device he held over his patients was reading the patient's chip. The patients in the future will be so lucky, as will their physicians, because in the future patients will have their entire medical record on a micro chip. Just like dogs and cats have now have a micro chip to help find their owners.

This space age technology is necessary because many patients cannot remember any pertinent facts about their care. And the EMR (electronic medical record) with universal access is too far off. Take the patient I have right now in labor and delivery. She is 19. She told me she had a miscarriage in December 2009. December, the month of a major holiday. I figured she could remember. When I was able to find a record of this, the miscarriage was in October.

Even worse, this patient tells me her due date is August 6, 2010. You can see why the miscarriage was important. Those two facts do not fit together. But her baby only measures a little over 2 pounds. She says this due date is from a sonogram done when she was four months pregnant but she cannot remember the month in which this sonogram was done. Her mother says it was April. She had a second sonogram last month but the mother and daughter argued about where last month was May or June. I am tired but I am pretty sure it is now July and last month was June.

You can see why I need records. The girl is hypertensive, her baby is small, and she is somewhere between 28 and 35 weeks. If she is indeed thirty five weeks, with her hypertension and the growth restriction of this baby delivery is the appropriate treatment. If she is only 28 weeks, then the baby is so premature, waiting is a safer approach. This all began after 5 pm so the clinic where these sonograms were done is closed.

Do you see why we need a medical chip. I know, the government will use it to control use. That is what the older patients tell me about electronic medical records. Well, if you can't control your self, and you are pregnant, the a little government control may be in order, at least if you want me to stay up all night and worry about your baby.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can imagine that some will have concerns over privacy with a plan like this. Personally, I find the implementation of certain privacy protections to be extremely silly. When I go to a Dr's office, great pains are taken to keep the next person from seeing my name on the sign in list, but everyone in the waiting room can SEE me there. I also don't understand how patients considering surgeries like weight loss surgeries or lasix can be required to attend a group information session. To me, the group sessions are much more invasive of my privacy than signing in to see a Dr.
Back on the original topic, I think that the chip idea is a good one and in a lot of ways, it does seem that our pets get better care than we do.