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Electronic Medical Records and Mortality in Trauma Patients

Deckelbaum, Dan L. MD; Feinstein, Ara J. MD, MPH; Schulman, Carl I. MD, MSPH; Augenstein, Jeffrey S. MD, PhD; Murtha, Mary F. RN; Livingstone, Alan S. MD; McKenney, Mark G. MD, MBA

Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery: September 2009 - Volume 67 - Issue 3 - p 634-636
doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e3181a0fbce
Original Article

Background: The Electronic Medical Record (EMR) has been proposed as a way to reduce medical errors. It can also be used to document clinician involvement, which may affect outcomes. We sought to determine whether the EMR could be used to improve attending involvement in daily care, enhance surgical revenue, and lower mortality of patients with trauma.

Methods: In 2004, the Trauma Division adopted a software program (CARE, Miami, FL) for creating an EMR and implemented a weekly report that was distributed to all members of the division and also to Departmental decision makers. Before initiation, explicit instructions were given to all surgeons that daily notes in the EMR were expected and would be followed by weekly reports. Before this, most notes were recorded in the paper chart and were difficult to track. Differences among proportions were determined with z test or χ2, where appropriate with significance defined as p < 0.05.

Results: With implementation of the EMR, daily and weekly reports were immediately available. Both attending surgeon documented notes and divisional annual revenue increased. A reduction in mortality was also observed.

Conclusion: The EMR can be used to change attending surgeon involvement in patient care and procedures. The increase in attending involvement was associated with an increase in revenue. Use of the EMR was associated with a significant reduction in hospital mortality.

From the Ryder Trauma Center, University of Miami, Miami, Florida.

Submitted for publication October 30, 2008.

Accepted for publication February 6, 2009.

Address for reprints: Dan Leon Deckelbaum, MD, Ryder Trauma Center, University of Miami, PO Box 016960, Miami, FL 33101; email:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.