Teresa Hamby on Irene Qualifier

At the recent CSTE conference in Omaha, Teresa Hamby, MSPH, Data Analyst in the Communicable Disease Service of the New Jersey Department of Health & Senior Services prepared a poster outlining Syndromic Surveillance data collected during and after 2011’s Hurricane Irene.

Hamby and her colleagues worked with HMS to create a qualifier in EpiCenter to identify emergency room admissions related to Hurricane Irene. Hospitals were requested to include the qualifier “Irene” in all hurricane-related ER admissions.

In her presentation, Hamby listed the project objectives of collecting data to determine whether carbon monoxide visits to emergency departments increased during and after Irene landed in New Jersey—and if EpiCenter detected the rise. Carbon monoxide poisoning has been associated with the use of portable gas-powered generators used in situations such as a hurricane. The project also sought to evaluate the use of a storm-identifying keyword by emergency room personnel.

As requested, emergency department personnel added the keyword “Irene” to any hurricane related admissions. Data fields were then searched for text terms relating to carbon monoxide poisoning. It was discovered that carbon monoxide associated visits peaked on the day Irene landed. A total of 22 cases were reported in three day’s time.

Hamby states that the analysis backs up literature connecting an increase in carbon monoxide poisoning to generator use during and after a hurricane hits. She adds that the utilization of the keyword “Irene” was beneficial in helping her and her colleagues to analyze Irene-related emergency room visits—and in helping with future planning to inform the public about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

About Health Monitoring Systems, Inc.

HMS (http://www.hmsinc.com) is a privately held company specializing in healthcare data analysis. The company processes and analyzes health‐related data in real time via a Software‐as‐a‐Service (SaaS) approach. Using this approach, HMS enables clients to increase their understanding of regional health conditions, improve quality and efficiency, and ensure regulatory compliance.

The company’s EpiCenter™ system is a first of its kind community health surveillance system for public health. HMS collects and analyzes data from more than 500 healthcare facilities across the country.

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