Medical students are recruiting the help of their superiors to show them the ways of ye old fax machines. Source: Shutterstock.com

Student doctors may learn how to perform brain surgery and deliver a baby, but when it comes to using a fax machine, it may as well be rocket science.

Fax machines are regularly used in hospitals to transfer patient information, but the communication device is like the dodo outside of the health sector halls, according to CNBC.

This is reportedly leading to an epidemic of embarrassed young doctors, who have to ask their seniors to show them the ropes.

Amol Utrankar was in his second year of medical school and working a shift at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee when a supervisor asked him to obtain a new patient’s medical records, reported CNBC.

Clueless on how the fax machine worked, he had to recruit the expert advice of a nearby nurse, who showed him how to input a number by putting the page in the right slot, physically pressing the buttons, dialing out and collecting a confirmation fax.

“It was embarrassing,” he admitted.

Although the rest of the world may have moved on from faxing information, Nate Gross, co-founder of Doximity, a start-up that came up with a product called DocFax that lets doctors send faxes without a physical fax machine, said it will be a while before healthcare follows suit.

He told CNBC: “Every hospital, no matter how small, has a fax machine, so it’s the safest and easiest way to get the information you need. It will take another decade or two before healthcare is no longer reliant on the fax machine.”

However, Harvard medical student Jordan D. Anderson said he had to wait four hours to receive a patient’s records during a medical emergency.

That kind of delay often leads to duplicate tests to rule out potential diagnoses, which are expensive and potentially avoidable.

“Clearly the technology exists to allow us to have access to another hospital’s medical record system and just search for the thing we need,” he said.

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