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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.