Published at Hospital Impact on September 15, 2010
The clinical scenario is familiar to many doctors.
An elderly man arrives at California Pacific Medical Center's emergency department in San Francisco at 11 p.m. on a Saturday by ambulance, unconscious and severely ill. A neighbor had called 911 after he failed to answer the phone or door. No friends or relatives are available, and the man has never visited this emergency department before.
The treating doctors must start from scratch to diagnose and treat this patient, with no knowledge of his other physicians, past medical history, medications, or previous medical care. This process is expensive and inefficient, because historical information is missing.