Monthly Archives: October 2012

Healthcare response to Sandy

There’s been a LOT written about hospitals this week on the east coast, and I can only imagone more to come. I wanted to post a good recap I had come across recapping the selfless response of healthcare workers up and down the east coast. Special apperication and cheers go to the nurses in New York City.

At one New York hospital where backup generators failed, staff carried premature babies down more than a dozen flights of stairs in one of the more dramatic moments for healthcare workers during powerful storm Sandy.

From Maryland to Massachusetts, hospitals large and small had prepared for the worst as the storm approached, stocking up on supplies and ensuring backup power generators were ready. At least 30 people were reported killed by the storm, and millions left without power.

In its aftermath on Tuesday, many hospitals were still limiting care to the neediest patients, canceling chemotherapy sessions and elective surgeries and anticipating a new influx to emergency rooms as travel conditions improved.

New York University’s Langone Medical Center near the city’s East River was one of the hardest hit as eight feet of water flooded its basement. It evacuated all 215 patients, including critically ill infants, when its backup generator failed.

“It is a very long operation because they have to hand move every patient. There are no elevators and some of the patients are on the 15th floor,” said hospital spokeswoman Lorinda Klein. “All the patients have been safely transported … the nurses had battery-operated machinery for patients that needed that level of care.”

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Doctors open their notes to patients – and it works

Patients who spent a year with access to their doctors’ notes say their quality of care improved.

The doctors were all using a software called OpenNotes, which gave patients access to all those notes scribbled down during various appointments. Doctors at three medical systems tested out the new system with just over 13,000 patients. After a year with the new system, researchers had patients and doctors fill out surveys about how the new system effected their health. Their results are now available in an Annals of Internal Medicine study.

Overall, the ratings were positive when it came to the quality of care, with patients appearing to be significantly more enthusiastic about the program than their doctors. You can see that in this chart below, where the squares represent doctors’ answers to various questions and the circles represent those of patients. The results are separated by the three health care sites where the new OpenNotes software was deployed.

The study does have some limitations: It was only conducted at three sites and, in studies like these, there tends to be a bias toward more positive opinions (people like to say, for example, that they’re taking better care of themselves). Still, a year into the project, no doctor elected to leave the program, suggesting that some of the gains might offset any of the negatives of having patients peek at their own medical records.

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