Telemedicine consults may reduce med errors at rural ERs

Telemedicine may reduce errors in rural emergency departments, a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found.

Researchers from various campuses of the University of California found that rural ER doctors made errors in administering medication only three percent of the time.when they took part in a telemedicine consultation.The researchers did chart reviews on seriously ill and injured children treated at eight rural EDs with access to pediatric critical care physicians from an academic children's hospital via telemedicine. Among the 234 patients in the study, 73 received telemedicine consultations, 85 received telephone consultations and 76 received no specialist consultations at all.

Medication errors for patients who had either telephone consultations or no consultation were higher than for those patients who received telemedicine consults--about three percent for those who had telemedicine, vs. 10.8 percent for having a telephone consult and 12.5 percent for having no consultation.

"Pediatric critical care telemedicine consultations were associated with a significantly reduced risk of physician-related ED medication errors among seriously ill and injured children in rural EDs," study authors concluded.

This study findings come in the wake of recent news that the University of California Davis Children's Hospital of Sacramento has been awarded a grant of approximately $750,000 over three years to expand telehealth services for newborns in rural areas and to study the impact of the program.

The new Pediatric Emergency Assistance to Newborns Using Telehealth (PEANUT) program will provide clinicians at rural hospitals with round-the-clock access to neonatologists and other subspecialists through the use of UC Davis' secure videoconferencing capabilities, according to an announcement.

In addition, the Children's Medical Center Dallas announced in September its launch of a "teleNICU" that allows Texas newborns in far-flung intensive care units to be examined virtually by expert neonatologists via telemedicine.

What's more, a recent telemedicine upgrade is allowing South Florida mobile medical clinics operated by Children's Health Fund to link to pediatric specialists from the University of Miami Health System.

To learn more:
- read the study abstract

Related Articles:
Grant helps UC Davis expand telemedicine newborn care
Telemedicine improves pediatric care in rural ERs
Mobile children's clinics to offer telemedicine links to specialists
Children's Medical Center Dallas launches 'teleNICU'

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