Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Systems Needed for Trauma Care

A study found that medication histories recorded for trauma patients in a rural population can be highly inaccurate and incomplete due to communication problems among hospital personnel. In addition, it is very difficult to obtain complete medical histories from patients who have trouble speaking or remembering exactly what medications they take.

The article “Medication Reconciliation in a Rural Trauma Situation” that studied 234 trauma patients was recently published online in the publication “Annals of Emergency Medicine”. “Medication errors are generally the result of the system breaking down and trauma patients are particularly vulnerable because the need for speed when treating them may make obtaining a complete medical history impossible”, said lead study author S. Lee Miller, MD, Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown PA.

The trauma patients in the study were from rural settings and were moderately injured. The medication lists given upon admission to the hospital were inaccurate 85% of the time. The study showed that ten patients received the wrong medications and one adverse drug event occurred. Some of the reasons contributing to the problem was that the medication lists were incomplete because patients were either poorly informed or forgetful, not all pharmacies would divulge patient information, and the doctors at the hospital did not know what the patient’s other doctors were prescribing.

When treating emergency trauma patients having the right information available at the right time is essential according to the American College of Emergency Physicians a national medical society. The society wants to see electronic medical records implemented and the development of an interoperable nationwide health information network linking all of the components of the system.

Realizing that providing effective and efficient trauma care is not presently being done in Arkansas, the Governor and state legislators are making funds available to improve trauma care. Governor Mike Beebe has just released $200,000 in seed money from the Governor’s Emergency Fund to assist in the development of the Arkansas Trauma System.

The Trauma System will be administered through the Arkansas Department of Health with the funding to be used to improve communication and coordination among hospitals and emergency medical services. Also, a statewide trauma registry will be established to identify future needs in trauma response as the overall system develops. The Governor is looking ahead and he wants to see the next legislative session discuss what constitutes a trauma care system and ways to provide the funding for the system in future years.