Health Informatics in the Real World

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In a world without Health Informatics. . . ‘Imagine Conor could be sitting here now if things didn’t go so horribly wrong. ”Yeah, I still don’t really understand how all this could have happened. ”Look it’s simple really. Conor wanted to see some obscure band on one of the smaller stages at the festival, and none of us were interested in going with him. When he blacked out over there, and the ambulance came, none of us even knew about it. We thought he’d found some of the other lads from school and linked up with them. Because he had no ID on him, the ambulance men couldn’t even get in touch with his parents, so they didn’t know anything about it until it was way too late. ‘So they took him off to hospital – what happened then?’Well, when they got him to the hospital, he was still unconscious. Seemingly, when he fell, he hit his head off something sharp and got a bad gash, so they decided to give him some penicillin to make sure he didn’t pick up an infection. ‘Oh no, didn’t they know he was allergic to it?’They didn’t even know his name, let alone his allergies…

So he ended up in intensive care, hooked up to a whole load of monitors and swollen all over. In fact it took them hours to even figure out that he was allergic to the antibiotic. ‘And his parents still thought he was at the festival the whole time?’Yep. And then, to make matters worse, that night the doctor who was in charge of him wrote down the medication to be given to him in the morning but his writing was so bad, that the nurse who came round in the morning misread it and gave him something totally different. ‘Lucky he didn’t die. ‘Yeah, I guess so, but then who wants to be going in for dialysis twice a week and waiting for a donor for the next few years…’Yeah, I feel sorry for the parents too though. Imagine waking up to see your son’s face on TV and being asked to contact the guards if you know who he is.

In a world with Health Informatics. . . Wow Conor, tell us again what happened – go on (even though he had told the story 20 times before Conor was enjoying the limelight and didn’t mind telling it again, especially as Jenny was in the audience!). ‘Well, I went off the see “The Plague” on one of the smaller stages at the festival. None of the lads wanted to go, so I headed off by myself. The last thing I remember was feeling dizzy and hitting the ground! I’ve had it before – my GP says it’s to do with “over-heating” when I’m dehydrated. I guess I was going a bit crazy to the music. But it’s easily sorted – every time I get it I just have to get some liquids in me when I come round. ”Next thing I knew, I woke up in a hospital ward with a big gash on my head and Mum and Dad sitting over me. Dad said that, when I got to hospital, a nurse got my health card from my wallet and, when they swiped it, that gave them personal details and access to my unique health number.

”With that, they were able to get my health history from the net. It was just as well because they were going to give me penicillin in case I got an infection from the gash – until they saw that I was allergic to it. Instead they gave me something called erythromycin, which I can take without any bad side effects. ”They were also able to find out the reason for my blackouts, from my GP records. The doctor was able to diagnose the type of hydrating drip he wanted to put me on. In fact it was kinda cool! He typed it into a little handheld computer and it was sent to the nurses’ station immediately. The nurse gave me the drip within 5 minutes. And they were able to get my Mum and Dad’s contact details from my health card. So I woke up to find them beside me. ‘Wow, you were lucky. ‘Yeah, I’d hate to think what could have happened if they weren’t able to get at my information…’


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