Summer is the time of year when emergency medical specialists see a spike in office visits. The reason is that the warm weather and outdoor activities come with certain risks such as heat-related ailments and injuries. Outsourcing medical transcription is a feasible option in these circumstances as it will help physicians maintain accurate emergency room (ER) medical records as they focus on their patients.
Common Summertime Injuries
The common injuries that ER physicians have to handle in summer are:
- Heat-related illnesses and dehydration: Too much sun exposure can cause heat-related conditions such as dehydration, nausea, dizziness, headaches and confusion and sometimes, severe heatstroke. A 2014 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that close to 1,000 Americans die each year due to heat-related illnesses. Children, the elderly and those suffering from chronic health conditions are the most affected. According to research published in Dermatology there were nearly 34,000 emergency room visits in the U.S. due to serious sunburns in 2013.
- Fire-related accidents: Barbecue lighting accidents are one of the most common reasons for burn injuries in summer. According to a CTV News report, inappropriate use of barbecues led to serious weekend charcoal-lighting accidents in May, seriously injuring two people. Physicians also see numerous hospital visits for cuts from kitchen knives.
- Water-related accidents: Water-related dangers are fairly common in summer and include trauma caused by jumping into water, boating injuries and drowning. Reports say that more than 5,000 children are seen in emergency rooms across the U.S. for injuries from near-drowning incidents.
- Sports-related injuries: Physicians report that sprains, foot injuries including twisted ankles and fractures are common reasons why people visit urgent care clinics and emergency rooms in summer.
- Gastrointestinal (GI) issues and food poisoning: Extreme heat can cause and aggravate GI problems. Studies show that high temperature increases the risk for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) flare-ups, and infectious gastroenteritis (IG). Food poisoning caused by eating contaminated food is also a common condition that ER physicians treat in summer. Symptoms include diarrhoea, stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting.
- Skin irritations and insect bites: With people spending long hours outdoors, skin irritations caused by contact with wild plants as well as insect bites occur frequently in summer. According to a Huffington News report published in May 2017, the Zika virus, though currently out of the news cycle, may rear its head again in some states.
Summer is clearly a busy time for ER physicians and urgent care specialists. Time pressures and heavy patient loads would leave little time for documentation. However, as the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) reiterates, high-quality emergency department (ED) medical records are critical to promote improved patient care. This is where electronic medical record (EMR) integrated medical transcription services can prove extremely useful.
Partnering with an experienced medical transcription company can ensure timely and accurate ER medical records that will ensure all of the benefits that the ACEP specifies:
- Documentation of clinically relevant aspects of the patient encounter including laboratory, radiologic, and other testing results
- Efficiency in all aspects of the patient encounter
- Communication with other providers
- Coordination of follow-up care
- Identification of the person who entered data into the record
- Discharge instruction communication
- Ease of data collection and data reporting
Only a high-quality ED medical record that is implemented successfully can accurately capture the process of evaluation, management, medical decision making and disposition related to the patient encounter. The ACEP stresses that hospitals should provide emergency physicians the same access to dictation and medical transcription services as is provided to other hospital medical staff.
The prompt, error-free records that reliable medical transcription companies provide can assist in quality assessment, quality improvement, meaningful use, and risk management activities. With the dedicated support that these companies provide, physicians can focus on providing quality patient care. They can also help ER physicians maintain medical records in compliance with applicable state and federal regulations, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996.