Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Study finds that rural emergency-room doctors are less likely to make errors when using telemedicine

Emergency-room doctors treating children in rural areas are less likely to make critical errors when they incorporate telemedicine, the assistance of critical care specialist through videoconferencing, according to a study by researchers at the University of California Davis Children's Hospital, published in Pediatrics. The study, which looked at 234 children who were treated for severe illnesses and injuries at eight rural hospitals in Northern California between 2003 and 2009, found that the wrong dose or wrong drug was administered 3 percent of the time when telemedicine was used, 11 percent of the time when local doctors talked to a specialist over the phone, and 13 percent of the time when a specialist wasn't consulted, Genevra Pittman reports for Reuters. (UCDCH photo)

Dr. James Marcin, the study's lead author, told Pittman that comparing telemedicine to a phone consultation is "the difference between the doctor coming in to do an office visit with you with his or her eyes closed, versus with his or her eyes open."

Of the 234 patients studied, telemedicine was used in 73 cases, with doctors administering 146 drugs, five of which turned out to be wrong for the patient's condition or were given incorrectly, Pittman writes. Phone consultation was used in 85 cases, with 18 errors among the 167 drugs administered. No consultation was used for the remaining 76 patients, with 16 errors out of 128 drugs administered. 

Dr. Alejandro J. Lopez-Magallon told Reuters: "The amount of information that you can gather in a telemedicine consultation is typically much richer than what you can gather from a telephone conversation. Also, the level of interaction with the remote care team widens because you're not talking with a single person on the other side - you can interact with the remote physician or physicians and nursing staff, support staff and the patient and family themselves." (Read more) To read the study click here.

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