Friday, 29 March 2013

If…stands for Index File

This week we provide an update on the re-ordering and review of LHSA case notes. 

Recent activity has focussed on the case note index card series, which consists of 34 series titles and over 300 boxes. The index cards were originally produced as manual finding aids for patient case records, however because they have not been catalogued in detail, they have not been routinely used for researching enquiries. The case notes themselves are, for the most part, ordered by date or patient name, so searching them is usually straight-forward, but index card series can contain names of patients whose case notes are missing and be used to find names within a date-ordered series if the date of admission is unknown.

The index cards had been re-housed into low acid boxes and labelled some years ago, so the first task was to look up handlists for the series which were written at this time. The series titles were reviewed and compared with existing case note collections and possible matches for them were identified. A sample of index cards was then tested to see whether patient records could be found using the information in the cards.

In some cases it was clear that no case note collection existed for the index cards and in others only a portion of the index card series was relevant to a particular collection. The 20,000 case note collection catalogued as relating to Sir John Fraser was found to have index cards relating to it under both John Fraser’s index series for years up to 1944 and under Mr Graham’s from 1944-1946, presumably because Mr Graham took over those wards from Fraser in 1944.
Sir John Fraser pausing from his work, c.1930s.
The index cards are usually ordered by patient name and also sometimes by disease, which may be of use for researching the incidence of particular illnesses. In total, 15 case note collections have so far been found to have an index card series which relates wholly or partially to them. Those index cards which do not relate to case notes are still of some use, as they confirm a patient’s admission to hospital. Also included in the index card series are some out-patient notes which cover patients who had been referred from other hospitals. These are not strictly index cards and form a type of case note collection in themselves.

This review of the index cards should greatly enhance the accessibility of the case note collections and enable LHSA staff to respond more efficiently to enquiries. 

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