Patient safety and care is set to improve when nurses have access to electronic health records, according to the profession.
From last month, every Australian was given an individual healthcare identification after the federal parliament passed legislation giving the scheme the green light.
The automatically assigned 16-digit identifiers will store a patient’s name, address and date of birth.
They will allow the government to introduce electronic health records down the track, with $467 million set aside in the budget to roll out e-health records from mid-2012.
Patients will be able to choose themselves whether or not to have an e-health record – unlike the identification number.
The records could list the medication they’re using, along with previous test results and immunisations.
Welcoming the introduction of the identifiers, ANF federal secretary elect Lee Thomas said the government’s e-health reform agenda could now be advanced to deliver a more streamlined health system for the nation.
“On a daily basis nurses and midwives are forced to make important decisions on how to initiate care for seriously ill people who may present to a hospital and often the nursing and medical staff will not know that person’s medical history,” she said.
E-Health would also make life easier for those on a complex regime of medication, she said.
“Are they allergic to a certain medicines? What, if any, medicines are they taking? Do they have an underlying medical condition or are they pregnant? This is vital information that could be quickly accessible through e-Health,” Thomas said.
“Most people, including the ageing, struggle to remember the names of all their medicines and often forget important information that may affect decisions around what treatment they should be given. It would be a great help to have a comprehensive health profile of that person including their current health condition and medications.”
The unique healthcare identifiers will be allocated by the Healthcare Identifiers Service, which is operated by Medicare Australia.Do you have an idea for a story?
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