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Importance of EMRs underscored by extreme weather disasters

MediNotes : 27 June, 2007  (New Product)
Natural disasters and severe weather, such as hurricanes, have underscored the importance of having electronic medical records (EMRs) in place says MediNotes.
In 2005 when Hurricane Katrina incapacitated the city of New Orleans medical community, the majority of paper medical records were completely destroyed, and those returning medical practitioners with some type of EMR in place, have served as a vital component for rebuilding the healthcare community in that region.

Experts at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center are currently projecting a 75 percent chance that the Atlantic Hurricane Season will be above normal this year.

In 2006, the number of weather related injuries in the USA rose from 1,834 in 2005 to 3,489; with property damage from severe weather estimated at $126.3 billion, which surpassed both the totals for damage and injuries suffered in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina struck.

As a result of Katrina, a total of 11 health centres were completely destroyed and more than 80 additional facilities sustained damage.

'I have seen first hand, the devastation that severe weather can have on medical services', stated Scharmaine Lawson, a New Orleans nurse practitioner.

'The information that is needed to provide appropriate medical attention and ongoing healthcare services can be gone in minutes, and for some people that can mean the difference between life and death should an adverse reaction occur due to a lack of medical information about a patient'.

Lawson uses MediNotes e from MediNotes, and credits the company's EMR system with allowing her to quadruple her practice following Hurricane Katrina, in order to provide much needed healthcare services to the homebound elderly and disabled who might otherwise go without care.

MediNotes was founded in 1995, by Donald G Schoen, president and CEO, to provide best of breed EHR solutions to small and medium sized physician practices.

MediNotes software is installed in more than 4,300 medical practices and is utilised by more than 18,500 healthcare professionals.

'Paper medical records are at such high risk for being lost or damaged during a severe weather event', stated Donald G Schoen, president and CEO of MediNotes.

'In times of disaster and the following recovery process, just having a patient's basic medical information such as address and next of kin can be a huge benefit, not to mention having information available like current medications and conditions which can ward off potential drug interactions or inappropriate treatment due to an existing condition'.

MediNotes lists the following reasons why EMR's are superior to paper records in times of severe weather and during disaster recovery:

- By implementing proper electronic backup medical records cannot be physically lost or destroyed.
- Allow for immediate access to a patient's medical history and current medical condition.
- Eliminate guesswork during diagnosis and prevents possible complications.
- Ability to locate/notify next of kin regarding treatment and status.
- Portability of EMR's allows for treatment to be documented in the field.

'Having lived through the worst case scenario, I cannot stress enough, the importance of having an EMR system in place', added Lawson.

'I would never consider going back to paper records after what I have experienced'.
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