In 2010, Regina Holliday brought her husband, suffering from kidney cancer, to a hospital and begged the doctors and nurses for her husband’s medical records. Five days later, she still hadn’t received them. On the sixth day, the man was transferred to another hospital, and the doctors couldn’t give him pain medications because they didn’t know what drugs he already had in his body. For a seemingly endless six hours, the man suffered from severe pain. The woman had to return to the first hospital to pry the records out of them to allow her husband to receive proper treatment.
Another case was described in the bulletin of the ECRI Institute PSO in May 2015:
The doctor ordered four units of fresh frozen plasma while the patient was in the ER. After the patient was admitted, the blood bank informed us that the order did not transfer because the number of units must be specified in multiple sections in the record. This resulted in a delay starting the infusion. The patient coded and died by the time the order was completed.
Improper Healthcare Data Costs Lives
Medical errors in hospitals are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Almost 98,000 people lose their lives in this way annually. Many of these mistakes are attributed to improper information or lack of information doctors rely on. Without information from the patient’s previous records, the doctors may have no time for additional tests and make wrong decisions based on the limited information they have.
One of the key problems in navigating through healthcare information is improper interoperability where different computers and, in some cases, paper information systems do not talk to each due to different technical or operational issues. 60% of nurses surveyed by the non-partisan Gary and Mary West Health Institute agreed interoperability could significantly decrease medical errors.
Efforts to Improve Healthcare Data Interoperability
Colossal efforts have been made by the healthcare community to develop proper data exchange standards. The process is led by the