IT key for Boston bombing patients

April 17, 2013 in Medical Technology

As a Bostonian and an emergency physician, Jonathan Teich’s first instinct when the explosions shook the Boston Marathon on April 15 ordinarily would have been to rush to Brigham Women’s Hospital to help treat the victims, many of whom had life-threatening injuries.

But this Patriot’s Day, it was different. Teich’s son and brother-in-law were both running the marathon. His brother-in-law crossed the finish line at the time of the second explosion – unhurt. Teich’s son, just a couple of miles back, was among the runners diverted off course. So an anxious Teich waited for that first text message saying he was OK. It would be two hours, though, before father and son were reunited.

Once he had seen for himself his boy was all right, Teich called Brigham Women’s emergency department, where he is on duty most Friday nights, to see what he could do to help. By then the hospital was adequately staffed.  

Emergency physician is one of several roles Teich (pictured at right) assumes in his professional life. He also serves as chief medical informatics officer for Elsevier and as assistant professor of medicine at Harvard.

All three roles keep him immersed in the world of informatics and health IT.

“There are several aspects to information management in a disaster,” he says. “As you can imagine, this is a situation full of many more patients with much higher acuity than we’re used to, often with types of problems, such as blast injuries, that we train for but do not see very often.”

However, at the Brigham Women’s, Teich said, there are emergency physicians who spend a lot of their time going to disaster sites around the world, taking care of crisis situations, from Haiti to Indonesia.

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