A new system being launched in Northern Ireland (NI) will see a summary of patient information taken from GP practices being made available to emergency staff.
Based on a process successfully operating in Scotland since 2005, the emergency care record will improve treatment by giving doctors a more detailed breakdown of patients' medical history.
Most people falsely expect that if they are treated out-of-hours, hospital staff will have access to their medical records, said NI health minister Michael McGimpsey.
“All of the diagnoses and treatments carried out by the clinicians in GP out-of-hours and accident and emergency (A&E) services are based on what the patient tells the doctors," he said.
“The NI emergency care record will now make key information from patients’ medical records, held by GP practices, available to GP out-of-hours and A&E staff.”
The GP out-of-hours services based at South Tyrone Hospital, Dungannon and Mullinure, Armagh will be the first in the province to use the emergency care record.
The scheme will be extended to the A&E and GP out of hours Services at Craigavon Area Hospital over the coming months and, if successful, will be rolled out across the rest of Northern Ireland.