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Ambulance crews gain crucial new hand held computer link to emergency medical data

Ambulance crews are to gain a crucial new tool to help them get speedy access to information on everything from advice on resuscitation drugs doses, to data on toxic chemicals and poisons thanks to a new Ambulance Crew Electronic Pocket Guide for Personal Digital Assistants, designed by the University of Warwick, being launched at the Ambulance Service Association Conference (AMBEX) in Harrogate on 27th -29th June.

The University of Warwick has been working closely with the Joint Royal Colleges Ambulance Liaison Committee (JRCALC) for the last six years developing clinical practice guidelines for the entire UK Ambulance Service. The guidelines help provide ambulance crews with quick access to everything from information on the right drug doses to use to help resuscitate someone to how to cope with chemical incidents.

Up until now those guidelines have just been produced as a large A4 loose leave folder, paper pocket guides or web sites. While these are all useful formats, the Warwick Medical School research team and JRCALC believed they could make the information even easier to access for busy ambulance crews. They have thus devised a new Ambulance Crew Pocket Guide for PDAs, in conjunction with colleges from the School of Engineering at Warwick, that not only contains more information than the pocket guide version of the guidelines but also allows much easier search and retrieval of the information using keyword searching, contents buttons, bookmarking favourites etc.

Dr. Joanne Fisher from Warwick Medical School points out that:

“A massive added bonus is that 'for devices with web access capabilities' the software also gives ambulance crews web access to - the online database of the National Poisons Information Service and - the British National Formulary online database providing information on the clinical use of medicines so that important information can be accessed directly without the need to contact ambulance control.

“There is also the potential to use the PDA display to give information or ask patients key standard medical questions in their own language and indicate answers to those questions.”

Tom Clarke – Chairman of JRCALC and Medical Advisor to North East Ambulance Service said: “This new electronic format for the pocket book is to be universally welcomed. Conveniently providing even faster and easier access to vital clinical information which will undoubtedly enhance patient care in the challenging prehospital environment”.

The University of Warwick research team on the project are Professor Matthew Cooke and Dr. Joanne Fisher from Warwick Medical School and Dr Evor Hines and Dr Daciana Iliescu from the University of Warwick’s Engineering Department’s computer software engineering team. The team from the Joint Royal Colleges Ambulance Liaison Committee are Dr. Simon Brown Chairman of the Clinical Practice Guidelines Committee and Dr. Thomas Clarke Chairman of JRCALC.

Peter Dunn | alfa
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