NSW ambos trialling electronic records

The NSW Ambulance Service is deploying an electronic patient record system, which has irked paramedics already using it in other states.

The NSW Ambulance Service is deploying an electronic patient record system, which has irked paramedics already using it in other states.

The Victorian Ambulance Clinical Information System (VACIS), so called because it was designed and first used by that state, has also been introduced into Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland.

It involves a series of tough laptops deployed into ambulances for paramedics to send information on a patient's condition to hospitals.

That data is currently handed over to hospitals on a paper form when a patient is delivered.

Emergency services say the system lets hospitals receive critical information sooner, with services benefiting from a raft of improvements derived from crunching the medical data.

Pain management has already been improved in Victoria thanks to the analysis of some 700,000 records that revealed inconsistencies in limb splints and an under-use of morphine.

It has also helped other states better manage vehicle dispatch, including making use of paramedic firefighters who can attend a scene if ambulances are too far away.

NSW Ambulance program manager Jacqueline Burford said the VACIS has been deployed to about 50 divisions in the western Sydney wing of the service and will eventually be used in 3500 ambulances — the bulk of the state's fleet.

"They see it as the way of the future," Burford said.

Problems with usability reported by paramedics in other states may remain, but Burford said users will become familiar with the system over time.

"There is always a period of adjustment for these systems," she said.

The initial western Sydney deployment will be completed later next year and will include some 18 months of training.

It will also link into with defibrillation units to feed precise raw data to hospitals.

Plans are also underway to allow hospitals to freely access the VACIS, rather than having data sent to them.

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