“I’m Quite Sure in the Old Paper World, She Would Have Died”
Illustrating how EHRs help save lives

A teenager from rural Australia arrived at the emergency department of Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne feeling generally unwell. The doctors at RCH performed an examination and found nothing wrong, so they conducted some diagnostic tests and sent her home with instructions to return if anything changed.

While the patient and her family were in the car driving home, her tests were sent to a specialist to take a second look. The specialist detected some abnormalities, and immediately called the ED. The hospital contacted the family, who then turned the car around and headed back to RCH. As soon as the patient arrived in the waiting room, she went into cardiac arrest and had to be placed on a cardiopulmonary bypass machine.

Now, thanks in part to the immediate availability of the patient’s ECG in Epic, she’s back to being a healthy teenager. Before RCH’s implementation of Epic, the patient’s ECG would have gone through the internal mail system and only been reviewed by a cardiologist several days later.

“I’m quite sure in the old paper world, she would have died before anyone even checked her ECG. So the speed and efficiency of having that information all connected up with the rest of her clinical information saved her life,” said Professor Mike South, RCH’s CMIO. “It’s one of thousands of examples of improvements to care that can be achieved when information can be dealt with quickly and effectively.”

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