The Pennington First Aid Squad in curly text

ERRORS. Why won't my chart advance?

Kirk Schmitt

The last thing most of us do when we finish a chart is to click on "complete and lock." This sends the chart to our PFAS quality assurance officer(s) and they either pass the chart or demote it for correction. But before QA sees the chart, it passes through several checking steps done by computer software. These steps include:

The Captain, local medical control, and the State require that certain fields in the chart be filled out or certain rules be followed. If you have made an error, according to these rules, you will get an error message that looks like this:

Data validation error message example

These error messages are usually fairly clear and point you to the page that needs to be fixed. If you cannot easily understand what needs to be fixed or if you have ANY trouble correcting the error, call your quality assurance officer or software administrator.

The State also requires certain uniform standards to be met by electronic charts. The rules are set nationwide by an organization called NEMSIS. The NEMSIS rules do not always make sense and the error messages are sometimes obscure. Here are a couple of error message boxes for NEMSIS errors. None make sense, but you cannot advance the chart unless you correct them.

NEMSIS error message example

NEMSIS error message example

You will probably note that the word "Normal" is associated with several of the errors. NEMSIS does not allow you to select Normal for an assessment and then select another value to go with it. For example, every EMT knows that "warm and dry" skin goes with "normal," but NEMSIS does not allow this. If you select Normal along with warm and dry, you will get an error.

More insidious and difficult to track are errors like the one that says "Not done cannot appear" with other values for Mental Assessment/Neuro Exam. This sounds like it makes sense, but it represents either bizarre thinking or a software error in the NEMSIS rules because "Not done" comes from selecting "within normal limits" along with oriented to person, place, time. The "within normal limits" somehow triggers a "not done." Go figure.

There is nothing the PFAS or emsCharts can do about NEMSIS. I suggest that whenever you want to add something to a "Normal" in an assessment, just type the extra description in the findings line. If you cannot easily understand what needs to be fixed or if you have ANY trouble correcting the error, call a quality assurance officer or software administrator .

Here is a list of known errors.