Are Massachusetts’ Medical Records Good Enough to Help Fight Ebola?

Electronic medical records are meant to be helpful for all medical professionals. However, if we look at the case of the first person to die from Ebola in America, some of these records are clearly not up to snuff . When Thomas Eric Duncan went into the hospital complaining of not feeling well, he noted that he had been to West Africa. Hospital staff did not blink an eye, and his medical records did not flag him as a health risk. This incident illustrates the point that a gap in the system exists, and that this must be addressed in all medical facilities across the state and the nation.

When medical professionals are accessing electronic medical records, they need to be presented with system alerts that will tell them what the best protocol dictates. If you put a dangerous travel location into the system, it should warn you of imminent danger. People who have traveled to Africa during the Ebola epidemic should be flagged immediately, and the medical system should be prepared to warn doctors and nurses of travel advisories.

These advisories should be no different than the travel advisories issued by the State Department. These records can help doctors and nurses treat people more quickly, but they are useless if they are not noted properly. Perhaps, if Thomas Eric Duncan had gone to another hospital, it is possible that properly notated medical records could have saved his life. Also, it is possible that the system could have saved people who might have been exposed inside the hospital.

Electronic medical records in Massachusetts are very clever, but they are not quite strong enough to protect all doctors, nurses and patients. These medical record systems need to be fitted with travel advisories and other alerts that will warn medical professionals of a potential threat. This could save further lives and prevent an epidemic here in America.

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