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Posts tagged Technology.

The problem with Electronic Medical Records

Doctors spending too much time using computers and electronic medical records

It is not so much that all Electronic Medical Records are terrible, but rather that it is so close to true that the occasional net-positive EMR roll-out does not move the needle much on its own. The greater challenge is that the reasons why the EMR experience is so poor also make it unlikely that EMRs will get dramatically better in the short-term.

The root of the EMR problem, fundamental to their very nature, ensures that EMRs will get worse before they get better.

I'm yet to be impressed by a hospital-wide monolithic EMR – one that is intuitive to use, enhances safety and reduces clinician workload rather than adding to it. An EMR that offloads administrative burden from healthcare providers, and enhances authentic interactions with patients. Where are the truly efficient EMRs that are true improvements to the paper-based systems they replace?

“Show me an [EMR that] only triples my work and I will kiss [their] feet.” – House of God1

Many EMRs are frustrating and inefficient, though tolerable in a necessary-evil kind of way. Clinicians put up with the many small EMR-inflicted aggravations because of the promises made for improved safety, efficiency and lowered costs. Yet the modern EMRs of today have largely failed to live up to even these low-bar aspirations.2

Read on about failed EMR promises...


  1. Shamelessly stolen and adapted from Samuel Shem's (Stephen Bergman) classic House of God

  2. I use ‘EMR’ (Electronic Medical Record) in the strictest sense here, meaning a system for managing medical records in a hospital or group of hospitals. In North America ‘EMR’ is sometimes used interchangeably with ‘EHR’ (Electronic Health Record) which is more accurately a population-wide record of health, such as Australia’s imperilled My Health Record. In this example the EHR is an aggregator of health summaries, not a hospital medical record. At a medical-practice level, it is more accurate to talk about ‘practice management software’ than EMRs. 

Ketamine, Checklists and Social Media

Metajournal on Ketamine, Checklists and Social Media with ice-cream

As I read articles this week, three very different papers created a nexus of interest and push-back against mildly dogmatic thinking in the critical care specialities. Two challenge existing anaesthesia dogma, while the third highlights the potential for missteps when incorporating new media into our practice and education.

Although critical care specialties like anaesthesia and emergency medicine are often seen from the outside as embracing change and being unafraid of dipping our collective toes into the rivers of progress, there are still many strongly held views that persist even in the face of contrary evidence.

Ketamine and persistent pain

Chumbley, Thompson, Swatman and Urch report in the European Journal of Pain the results of their double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial of a 96-hour perioperative ketamine infusion to reduce persistent post-surgical pain after thoracotomy. Notably they found that this significant-duration ketamine infusion did not reduce post-thoracotomy chronic pain.

This paper is the first quality RCT to follow thoracotomy patients for a year after surgery in the setting of perioperative ketamine. It adds to existing evidence suggesting a lack of effect of ketamine for mitigating persistent surgical pain – even though this has been a popular opinion (hope?) among anaesthetists and pain specialists in the past. The results of the ROCKet trial will provide us with more confidence in answering this question.1

Read on for anaesthesia checklists and FOAMed mistakes...


  1. A collection of related articles can be found here: Does ketamine reduce persistent post-surgical pain? 

Five things I love about the C-MAC

Ah, videolaryngoscopes – wonderful toys increasingly common in operating rooms, intensive care units and emergency departments throughout the world.

After the first video laryngoscope was conceived by New York emergency physician Jon Berall in 1998, commercial success quickly followed with the 2001 Glidescope (designed by a vascular surgeon nonetheless!). Our love of the videolaryngoscope has grown ever since.

Like many anaesthetists and anesthesiologists I've used several different videolaryngoscopes over the past few years. The character that sets apart the videoscopes I like to use from those I do not is how well they enhance airway techniques I use every day rather than requiring a new technique specific to their device.

Overwhelmingly this comes down to how similar the laryngoscope is to a standard Macintosh blade rather than inventing a whole new shape. While there may be theoretical (or even real!) benefits to increasing the angle of the blade or adding extra conduits, when I have a difficult airway I want to augment the tools and techniques I use every day rather than change to something completely different. (When I want to change to something completely different I'll pick up a fibreoptic bronchoscope or something sharp!)

Read more...

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