Boston Marathon Bombing Yields Lessons for Hospitals

Tinker Ready, for HealthLeaders Media , April 17, 2014

In a report on the marathon bombing, the Federal Emergency Management Agency noted that the use of tourniquets had fallen out of favor. They may do more damage than good by cutting off circulation to healthy tissue. However, the FEMA report noted, the successful treatment of battlefield injuries in Iraq demonstrated the value of tourniquets.


Eric Goralnick, MD
Medical Director for
Emergency Preparedness
at Brigham and Women's Hospital

"We have extensive science on this from the past twelve years of war," King said.  

EHR Shortcomings
King and others think one of the major problems during the initial response to the blast was the inability of some hospitals' electronic health records systems to keep up with the surge of severely injured patients. It just took too long to register them, he said. At one point, King looked down and saw that he was writing patient notes on his scrubs with a Sharprie.

Eric Goralnick, MD, agrees. He's the medical director for emergency preparedness at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and, like King, a military veteran. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he served from 1995 to 2002.

"The No. 1 bottleneck was the information system," he said. By that, he means the electronic medical records, virtual tracking board, and the numeric naming conventions they had been using at the hospital to identify patients.

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