|From the book Super Freakonomics|
From the book Super Freakonomics, by SD Levitt & SJ Dubner (click here to go the their web site).
By this time, Feied and Smith had between them treated more than a hundred thousand patients in various emergency rooms. They found one commodity was always in short supply: information. A patient would come in-conscious or unconscious, cooperative or not, sober or high, with a limitless array of potential problems-and the doctor had to decide quickly how to treat him. But there were usually more questions than answers: Was the patient on medication? What was his medical history? Did a low blood count mean acute internal bleeding or just chronic anemia? And where was the CT scan that was supposedly done two hours ago?
"For years, I treated patients with no more information than the patients could tell me," Feied says. "Any other information took too long, so you couldn't factor it in. We often knew what information we needed, and even knew where it was, but it just wasn't available in time. The critical piece of data might have been two hours away or two weeks away. In a busy emergency department, even two minutes away is too much. You can't do that when you have forty patients and half of them are trying to die."
The problem agitated Feied so badly that he turned himself into the world's first emergency-medicine informaticist. (He made up the phrase, based on the European term for computer science.) He believed that the best way to improve clinical care in the ER was to improve the flow of information.