Letters

Accessing emergency test results on ward computers

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.323.7311.516 (Published 01 September 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:516

Results indicating that lifesaving treatment is needed should probably be telephoned

  1. Robert K Peel, specialist registrar in renal and general medicine (robpeel@doctors.org.uk),
  2. Sunil Bhandari, consultant in renal and general medicine
  1. Department of Renal Medicine, Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Hull Royal Infirmary, Hull HU3 2JZ
  2. University Department of Clinical Chemistry, Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals Trust, Liverpool L7 8XP
  3. Thames Avenue Surgery, Rainham, Kent ME8 9BW
  4. Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Netherlands

    EDITOR—Kilpatrick and Holding report an audit of the introduction of computer terminals to two wards so that emergency test results could be accessed.1 They have opened the debate on the presumption that computerised results are superior to telephoned results for emergency tests. Their study highlights several important issues.

    In each of the two busy clinical areas audited only one terminal could be used to access results. This may have led to limited access to results at certain times. The audit was carried out one month after the computer terminals were activated. Whether staff had a period of learning and familiarisation before using the system is unclear. Also, teething problems would have to be overcome before such a new system was implemented. It would be interesting to see the results of an audit carried out today.

    The attitude of junior doctors in practice must be considered. With the high workloads and numerous patients, they are often anxious to get through the admissions that need to be seen rather than to formulate a differential diagnosis, arrange tests, and, most importantly, review the results requested. Frequently, inappropriate blood tests …

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