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Home > Topics > Technology
July 26, 2011
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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

Another great tool for sharing medical histories

ICEDOTS could be a great application for many of the patients we see, either in traumatic events around the office or home, or with altered mental status or other communication challenges

By Arthur Hsieh

Sand Springs, Okla., police recently introduced In Case of Emergency Dots, or ICEDOTS, provide emergency crews with important medical information that can help save lives.

I've written in previous columns about the efforts to make medical information more accessible to EMS providers.

Here is yet another example where technology can enhance that information. By texting a code to a web-based database, emergency responders can retrieve selectable information about a patient.

While this has been developed for athletes, it has great application for many of the patients we see, either in traumatic events around the office or home, or with altered mental status or other communication challenges.

Information is key. Many of our patients have complex medical histories and are prescribed numerous medications for their conditions.

Fortunately, very few of our prehospital medications have negative interactions with home meds. However, a patient's presentation may be affected and potentially mislead us in our care.

For example, a patient on beta blockers may not have a classic tachycardic response to hypovolemic shock. If the patient is unable to provide that crucial piece of information after experiencing a serious traumatic injury, the responder may not recognize that shock is present even though the heart rate is "normal."

There may be concerns about health information and privacy. It sounds like, with this product, that is within the control of the end user as to what information can, and can't, be shared.

Another issue is one of tradition. Over the years, we have trained students to look for medical jewelry around the neck or wrist. As this technology evolves, it becomes as important to look at clothing, running shoes and ankles for sources of critical information.

There are a few organizations that are developing this level of access to patient information. Road ID has both "analog" devices that contain stamped information, as well as a digital-based format. They are seeking input from EMS providers as to how their products can be improved for accessibility.

In the increasing world of complex medical data, these simple devices might prove invaluable in a true medical emergency.

About the author

EMS1 Editor in Chief Art Hsieh, MA, NREMT-P currently teaches at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. In the profession since 1982, Art has worked as a line medic and chief officer in the private, third service and fire-based EMS. He has directed both primary and EMS continuing education programs. Art is a published textbook author, has presented at conferences nationwide, and continues to provide patient care at a rural hospital-based ALS system. Contact Art at Art.Hsieh@ems1.com.
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