MedicAlert calls on MOH to link to national alerting system

The MedicAlert Foundation New Zealand has called on the government to put up some funds to allow the Ministry of Health (MOH) and all district health boards to connect to MedicAlert's online alerting system.

The call follows the release of a report by the Health and Disability Commissioner into the death of 80-year-old Eunice Richardson in November 2013 following an adverse reaction against an antibiotic.

A patient of Canterbury DHB, Mrs Richardson was wearing a MedicAlert medical ID bracelet when she was admitted to hospital after a fall. The bracelet stated she was allergic to the antibiotic, trimethoprim, and her other known allergies were recorded on her drug chart.

However, following her transfer to a rehabilitation hospital, these warnings were ignored and she was administered trimethoprim for a UTI. She developed toxic epidermal necrolysis and died some days later.

MedicAlert CEO Murray Lord said the foundation was now urging the other DHBs to follow Canterbury’s lead in its promise to put in place policies and connected IT systems that ensure the MedicAlert system was used as designed.

“When a MedicAlert medical ID gets ignored, avoidable incidents happen, people get harmed and people die,” Mr Lord said.

“The social impact on the affected person, their family, the wider community and government can be massive and the hard-earned reputation of health providers and the careers of health practitioners can be ruined, all for the sake of a few seconds of good practice and due diligence.”

In addition to the bracelet, which carries details of the condition or allergy as well as a 24/7 medical emergency hotline, MedicAlert also manages its members' medical records, which are hosted in an online portal as part of MedicAlert's Patient Vitals subscription package.

The service was launched five years ago and uses the ManageMyHealth technology from Medtech. MedicAlert works with registered health organisations to give them online access to the portal for use in an emergency.

MedicAlert also offers an extended package that allows members to store advance care directives and emergency medical action plans online.

GPs can make an electronic referral to MedicAlert from within their PMS.

Posted in New Zealand eHealth

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