We live in the future

Yesterday, the consult team was evaluating a patient in the ICU and I asked to see the x-ray. A fourth year medical student started scrambling with his iPad to bring up the image. After about 15 seconds he apologized for how slow it was and then a few seconds later the image resolved.

And I just started laughing.

It was just over decade ago that we started daily rounds down in radiology to go over all of the films for our service. Well not all the films because a third of them were always missing, usually the missing ones were in the OR or still on the radiologists light box carousel.

This looks ancient. It was 1999.

I still remember that uncomfortable shame that came from having to tell my attending that I couldn't get the films. Rounding in the ICU was great because there was a satellite reading room attached to the unit so we could just duck into a room to see the images fresh from the developer. I remember being alone in the University ER when a dying man came in. The story sounded like an acute MI but I was worried about an aortic aneurysm and I was so busy putting in lines and starting pressors I couldn't get to radiology to take a peak at the mediastinum. Luckily a co-resident wandered by and was able to sprint to radiology to get the answer.

Fast forward to today and I have a kid apologising that his handheld wireless device, that is capable of displaying decades of lab results, all the notes and consults, is going to take anther few seconds to display the x-ray that was taken an hour ago.

We didn't get flying cars, but we did get a lot more than just 140 characters.