New virtual emergency room allowing some patients to skip trip to the hospital

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MEDINA, Ohio (WJW) – A trip to the emergency room can be a long and frustrating experience, but a new virtual emergency room is letting patients skip a trip to the Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital.  

It allows paramedics to immediately treat patients for non-life threatening conditions under the supervision of emergency room doctors through a live video link on their iPads.

“We immediately enter into the call and we pop up on screen so the response time is usually under a minute, and you’re face to face with an emergency medicine physician,” Dr. Bryan Graham with the Clinic’s Emergency Services Institute said.

The pre-COVID idea of a virtual emergency room was developed after a study showed up to 15% of patients who call 911 can be treated elsewhere.

The “Emergency Triage, Treat and Transport” program, now being used in Medina, was started by the Cleveland Clinic in Akron and is designed to capitalize on the skills of front line paramedics, while being supervised by ER doctors.

“A lot of what they have is what we have in the [emergency department], so we can do a lot of the same things right then and there through technology and just connecting with them,” said Dr. Graham.

The virtual set-up is never used in cases of trauma or where the patient’s vital signs indicate a serious medical condition.

One of the patients in Medina who benefitted from the new virtual emergency room had a history of allergic reaction to bee stings. She called 911 to report she had been stung at work.

“Historically, they give that patient a medication, take them directly to the ED. Instead, they called us, we directed intramuscular medications they gave into the muscle,” said Dr. Graham. “We observed the patient, talked to them and were then able to leave that patient on site, but we saved her a transport to the hospital, we got our emergency medicine crews back in service faster so they can respond to the next emergency.”

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