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Computer assisted management of information in an intensive care unit


In order to use the capability of computers for handling large amounts of information, we developed a program for the acquisition, handling, storage and retrieval of administrative and clinical information generated in the 20 bedded multidisciplinary critical care unit of a University Hospital. At an initial phase a personal computer (PC) was used to collect information from 4362 patients, that included registration data, coded admission problems, techniques and special treatments, and final diagnosis. This information combined with free text provided a discharge report. Complementary programs allowed calculation and storage of hemodynamic and gas exchange parameters. This experience led to a second phase in which a computer with microprocessor Intel 80386 at 25MHz, 8MB RAM, 310 MB hard, disk and a streamer for 150MB cartridge tape back up, using UNIX operating system, permitted multiple users working simultaneously through 1 central console and 7 ASCII terminals. Data input included demographic data, previous and admission problems in coded form, present history and physical examination in free text, list of present problems in coded form, comments on evolution, record of special techniques and treatments, laboratory data, treatment, final diagnosis and facility for using all the information to elaborate the final report. Side modules provide help for drugs dosing, protocols for specific conditions and clerical routines. The system is open for connection to other areas of the Hospital. Data from more than 2000 patients have been included so far. The program is used by medical, nursing and clerical staff with high degree of acceptance. All patients have their clinical information filed and 100% of the final reports are elaborated with the program.

We conclude that a PC supported application is not adequate for implementing a historical database. On the contrary the integration of a relational database management system with a text editor in a more potent multiuser set up, provides a highly efficient tool to handle all the data generated during the patients' admission.

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Correspondence to E. Cereijo.

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Cereijo, E. Computer assisted management of information in an intensive care unit. J Clin Monit Comput 9, 159–163 (1992).

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Key words

  • information systems
  • computer
  • intensive care units
  • critical care