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Epic Outcomes

Using Epic to Uncover the Flint Water Crisis

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha visits Epic to share her story

When Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician at Hurley Medical Center, suspected lead might be contaminating Flint’s water, she requested blood-lead-level data from the county and state health departments. They wouldn’t give it to her. So instead, she analyzed the data Hurley had collected in Epic.

Her analysis of Epic data showed that after Flint switched to a new water source in April 2014, the percentage of elevated blood-lead levels in children under five doubled. The city water was contaminated with lead. This discovery launched Flint into the national media spotlight, uncovering years of inaction from government officials.

“Epic is a character in this book,” Dr. Hanna-Attisha said, speaking to Epic staff about her recent book, “What the Eyes Don’t See.” “This research wouldn’t have been possible without Epic.”

In the book, she goes on to say that without Epic, “this kind of study would have taken months, possibly years. It would have been painstaking work, reviewing paper chart by paper chart by hand.”

Flint residents still don’t have safe-to-drink tap water, and Flint children face a lifetime of health impacts from drinking city water. But the community is healing and moving forward, Dr. Hanna-Attisha says.

Hurley is working on a new Flint Registry in Epic, which they designed with input from Flint community members. The registry will track residents exposed to lead and connect them to community resources to help them stay healthy.

Read Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s study in the American Journal of Public Health, and find her book “What the Eyes Don’t See” at your local bookstore.

Photo caption: All-Epic talk with Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, Deep Space, Verona, Wisconsin.