Context: We developed and evaluated the Emergency Department Expert Charting System (EDECS) to provide real-time guidance regarding the care of low back pain in adults, fever in children, and occupational exposure to blood and body fluids in health care workers, by embedding clinical guidelines within an electronic medical record.
Objective: To describe the behaviors and attitudes of physicians who used EDECS.
Design: Pre-post questionnaires were used to assess physician attitudes. Time studies of the intervention phase were observational, using clocks embedded in the software.
Participants: One hundred and forty two residents and interns in emergency, pediatric, internal, and family medicine and patients with the above-mentioned complaints.
Main outcome measures: Physician utilization of EDECS, time spent using EDECS, physician satisfaction and beliefs.
Results: Eighty four percent of the 142 eligible physicians used EDECS at least once. Five hundred and ninety one of 789 (75%) eligible cases were completed using EDECS. Median session time decreased from 12 min for session 1, to 5.5 min for sessions 16 and above. Physicians generally agreed that care with EDECS was better than standard care, particularly with respect to documentation. There was, however, considerable heterogeneity in belief among complaints.
Conclusions: These data illuminate both the potentials of computer-assisted decision making and the need for context-specific approaches when attempting to implement guidelines.