Art & Poetry in Medicine, Clinical, Emergency Medicine
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Once upon a time, in distant land,
we’d write down patient information with a pen in our hand.
And in this mysterious, far away place,
instead of staring at screens, we’d look a patient in the face!
But now we have computers, all shiny and new,
so the patient’s last 84 visits are easy to view!
There are fancy buttons to push, shortcut folders to sort,
and if you order the wrong antibiotic, you’ll be forced to abort!

“Oh, isn’t this neat? How nifty! Who knew?”
You pretend to smile as you email the IT guru.
Your buttons aren’t working. Your folders won’t sort.
The morphine for Mindy was given to Mork!

But that’s okay, don’t you worry, don’t fret!
We can call a troubleshooter, his name is Brett.
It’s easy, you see, he can fix things right up!
Only thing is he’ll cost a few thousand bucks.
He says there’s a bug in the debugger, a hack in the crack?
Oh, and Brett says our chairs aren’t good for my back!
There’s a twerk in the capacitor, a worm in the file?
Is Brett showing photos to nurses from his trip on the Nile?
He say’s there’s a fleeter in the doodad that’s obviously corrupt,
and the code for the vending machine has internally flupped!
What’s this mean, Brett, are we doomed or will it be fine?
He says he doesn’t know, but one thing is certain…
EMR downtime!

Meanwhile, in room 7, Ms. Jackson is having a seizure.
You rush into the room, eager to meet her!
Hey nurse Jackie, please, draw up 2 of Ativan!
Sorry, doc, you’ll have to put that order in…
But the patient is actively seizing, um, she’s literally blue,
I know, doc, says Jackie, the policy’s new.
What if I verbally tell you it’s okay, would you mind?
I’m afraid that won’t work, it has to be signed.
But there’s no computer in this room, don’t you find this strange?
Not really, it allows the pharmacist to check your dose range!
Well now I have to intubate her, I’ll use rocuronium.
Sure, doc, I’ll go get it, after you type it in.

For better or worse, Brett and his tech are here to stay.
What worked great yesterday will be updated today.
If sitting at a computer makes you want to bury your head in the ground,
that’s all right, they’ll get you one on wheels you can push around!
And that is the story of paper, and how it died.
Secretly, inside, even the computer nerds have cried.
For what was once simple is now unnecessarily hard,
but if you have a complaint, there’s a website where you can be heard!

Dustin Holland, MD, MPH Dustin Holland, MD, MPH (3 Posts)

Resident Physician Contributing Writer

Indiana University School of Medicine

Dustin is a PGY-3 emergency medicine resident at the Indiana University School of Medicine.