Last Wednesday evening, I was going to sit down and write a quick post about my family’s great Thanksgiving break at Disneyland, where we recharged and got to see World of Color for the first time (as well as rock the all-time high score on Robotron at the ElecTRONica arcade). World of Color is a truly stunning feat of technology — 1,200 individually-addressable colored water fountains, fire jets, a football-field-sized water projection screen, lasers, fog, holy crap — it’s unbelievable.
Such is the state of family entertainment in America. And yet — we struggle and largely fail trying to get up-to-date medication lists in front of emergency room providers. Really? REALLY?
Anyways, this was all percolating through my mind as I rode my scooter home from work. It was cold but dry out, so I wasn’t paying as close attention to the road surface as I should have. The corner of 24th and 140th had a sprinkling of sand leftover from recent snow operations, and as I came around it …..
The next six hours were spent lounging in luxury at the UW Medical Center emergency department, where I got to experience all the latest in diagnostic equipment, including a CT scan of my head, multiple X-Rays of my lower half, some well-appreciated Percocet and a pretty neat bedside vitals unit. Happily, I was most fine — a couple dizzy spells, some broken teeth (temporarily repaired by my awesome dentist), a screwed-up-but-unbroken knee, and a few miscellaneous bruises and cuts is all I really have to show for the excitement.
Unfortunately I was a bit too out of it to really record the experience. And the care was really very good. But even at a place as advanced as UW — some little nuggets stood out:
- The receptionist first entered all my information into the computer, and then did exactly the same things all over again on paper. Total repetition.
- The triage nurse entered my chief complaints into Cerner as text — and then had to do exactly the same thing again using a coded picklist — that didn’t even default using the text she had typed, and where she had to pick codes that didn’t really match because the search was such a pain to use.
- As far as I could tell, nobody looked at the computer from this point until they prepped me for discharge, and all observations were transcribed to paper.
- My discharge instructions involved a sheet of paper with the names of the providers that treated me, the diagnosis “Fractured Teeth, Knee Brusie (sic) and Abrasion; Mild Closed Head Injury”, and a couple of lame generic printouts about dental trauma and abrasions.
- I was told I couldn’t get digital copies of my CT or my X-Rays unless I went to the file office and made a request and paid something like $15.
- I have as yet no idea what my insurance will be charged for all this.
Wow. And remember — I got great care, from great people — I chose to go to UW over closer options because of their reputation and breadth of emergency service!
Anyways — a few days later the Percocet is out of the system and I’m probably going to be off the crutches by Monday. All in all, a really minor blip that could have been a lot worse. I am doubly-thankful this year, first for a great vacation, and next for a fantastic family and healthcare support system.
I’m also doubly-renewed in my motivation to fix the craziness that is healthcare IT. It’s just not that hard, folks — we have to do better. Next Thanksgiving, my goal is to report that we’ve made a dent.