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News: Useful Apps for Every Emergency Physician

Bufano, Paul

doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000437988.85002.97

Fifty-five percent of people use them while driving, 12 percent turn them onin the shower, and nine percent run them while having sex. What are they? Apps, of course.

Phone addiction is at an all-time high, thanks to tens of thousands of applications that can do everything from let you check in for your flight to pay for your morning coffee. But Michael Bond, MD, said smartphones and apps can do much more than check tomorrow's weather.

“In today's ED, rapidly sending and receiving information in a traceable manner has become imperative for safe and efficient practice,” said Dr. Bond, an associate professor of emergency medicine and the residency director at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Access to information on handheld devices has exploded in the past decade, and some applications are more useful than others. Some people are still using older flip phones, but smartphones are the way of the future and can seriously improve medical care of any kind.”

This technological influx brings many advantages, but EPs should be wary of the potential dangers that come with the access to information that phones hold, Dr. Bond said in a lecture called “There's An App for That: Hand-Held Devices and Applications That You Should Know About” at the Scientific Assembly of the American College of Emergency Physicians. Physicians have to understand all of the privacy concerns about patient information to avoid confidentiality violations.

“If your phone is lost or stolen, you could have an inadvertent HIPAA violation on your hands,” he said. “Some general precautions that should be taken include password-protecting your phone, having a remote phone-wipe installed, trying to avoid saving identifiable photos, and always obtaining signed consent forms. Remember, Facebook is not secure, and your posts can be shared with others.”

Dr. Bond recommended several useful free apps:



  • Standard Dictations is designed to help medical students and residents write clinical charts without having to remember all the steps of every procedure. It provides standardized templates for most histories, physicals, and procedures.
  • PocketCPR provides real-time feedback and instructions to assist with CPR. It has a metronome and depth gauge that can help ensure it is done correctly, and can also instruct when to give breaths if it is not in compression-only mode.
  • Pregnancy Wheel is a multifunction pregnancy calculator that makes it easy to determine the estimated due date and current gestation age. The screen will also tell you other important dates and when to get a sonogram.
  • Calculate by QxMD is a clinical calculator and decision support tool. It has more than 150 unique calculations and rules for areas such as cardiology, internal medicine, nephrology, oncology, and orthopedics.
  • MedCalc provides access to complex medical formulas, scores, scales, and classifications.
  • Epocrates, a reference tool that provides drug information, also has a pill identifier and price estimator. Additional disease information, alternative medications, lab guides and evidence-based medicine are available by upgrading to a subscription for $159.99 a year.
  • EyeChart provides a Snellen eye chart to measure visual acuity by holding the device four feet from the patient. A pro version available for 99 cents has color testing, and can randomize any line.
  • VisualDx is a reference tool that has more than 1,200 diagnoses and more than 27,000 medical images to aid diagnostic and therapeutic decisions. It enables physicians to confirm a diagnosis by comparing medical images to a patient's presentation.
  • Mobile MIM is the first FDA-approved imaging app for iOS. It is used to review medical images from SPECTs, PETs, CTs, MRIs, x-rays, and ultrasound.
  • MediBabble is a medical translation tool that features an extensive database of clinical questions and interactions as high-quality audio recordings. It is formatted for five languages, all content is written and reviewed by a panel of physicians, and it doesn't require an Internet connection.
  • Docphin provides access to full text PDFs and articles from more than 5,000 journals and news sources. You can follow your favorite journals, set up alerts on a specific topic, and save interesting articles.
  • Radiology 2.0 is an interactive education tool that allows users to simulate reading CT scans on a picture archiving and communication system. It follows with a detailed discussion that includes labeled images and links that highlight pathologies and relevant findings.
  • Flipboard is an aggregator that collects content from social media and other websites and presents it in magazine format. Articles can be flagged for later reference, and downloaded articles can be imported into Papers.
  • Papers is a database to store all of your manuscripts and journal articles. It can search PubMed, Google Scholar, and other sites. It also can import PDFs and sort, print, and share journal articles.
© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins