Using electronic medical records (EMRs) to host clinical documentation is one way for hospitals to keep track of all their current patients. Keeping track is critically important when natural disasters strike and, as we recently remembered the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, in times of increased patient volume.
You can’t help but think of the amount of people who needed medical care that day. Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City was privy to the center point of the chaos, and provides an example of a hospital that benefited from clinical documentation during patient influx.
They used an inpatient EMR system to keep track of current patients during a time when phone lines were down. With the system in place, it aided staff in providing treatment to critical care patients and moving them from recovery rooms to the intensive care unit (ICU), said Margaret Whitehorn, a registered nurse and former clinical director of surgical/trauma services for Bellevue’s department of surgery.
To accommodate additional patients, those in operating rooms were quickly re-located to recovery rooms to yield more space. “The system gave us the information we required to assess every patient in every interconnected Critical Care Unit (CCU) so we could evaluate and safely move patients to med surge beds thereby increasing availability,” said Whitehorn in a press release when describing the EMR system’s role.
Having timely access to clinical documentation of what stages patients were in was vital to managing them. It is scary to think of the alternative — a situation where clinical documentation was not readily available, and new patients were entering the hospital with limited beds.