Technology is the ever changing face of increased patient safety and efficiency in healthcare. My typical day as a nurse is augmented by technology from one task to another. Computerized documentation has made it possible for a faster and more direct communication between the various interdisciplinary teams. I am able to quickly glance at labs in report and any outstanding orders during shift report. As a nurse I am assigned a wireless phone that provides direct access to me. It prevents the frequent over head pagers for each and every staff member working on that floor. This enhances patient care quality because there is no time delay in relaying the message and receiving a response. Personal handheld gadgets hold clinical information on medications, diseases, labs and procedures. It is impossible to recall or store all medical information without these devices. Any day can present a different and new challenge in clinical practice, without readily accessible technology, patient safety would be severely compromised.
This is important because I can inquire information from the outgoing nurse if I am not sure of something. At the patient’s bedside are various monitors provide real time information of the patient. The practice is really changing; some units solely rely on the automated blood pressures. However taking a manual baseline, if possible, for my shift is a must. The automations do really become useful when you have to take frequent vital signs and manage a full patient load. The patients vital signs monitor is synchronized so that the values obtained are automatically recorded into the documentation. At the patient’s bedside, bar coded medical administration have gone a long way in reducing medical errors.
Electronic documentation has become a great equalizer for individual preferences for charting patient care. While all documentation is accurate and through, there are different ways to chart. The two I am familiar with are and all-inclusive form and charting by exception. In the former the nurse documents each variable while in the latter, only those findings that are out of the ordinary are recorded. Even so, this legal document becomes very important and protects the care provider if every nurse is using the same system. My charting has improved tremendously by using electronic documentation. The uniform text is also very useful for receiving doctor’s orders. Doctors and even nurses do not always write legibly. Technology here becomes critical to ensure patient safety and efficiency because there is clarity in the communication. Time is also saved because I do not have to try and call back doctors to clarify what their orders are. Patient and employee satisfaction is also greatly increased . Fortunately, in 2009 the US government mandated hospitals to use the electronic medical records citing the aforementioned benefits .
A well maintained and functioning technology system is necessary for the function of a large healthcare institution. What happens when technology fails or is down? My personal experience is that those downtimes can cause a lot of frustration and loss of time. It is hard to revert to the paper system of charting when you have become a fast and experienced electronic recorder. When computer systems are not in their ideal function mode there is loss of time and frustration in waiting for the informatics team to come and fix it. On a positive note, technology has also allowed hospitals to hire more nurses in the informatics department to bridge the gap between the technical systems and clinical practice.
In a world of practitioner shortages, the efficiency and increased safety and satisfaction that are found in technology are treasured. It is inevitable that we will continue to see technology continually transform the way we provide healthcare increase efficiency and patient outcomes. It is not too idealistic to envision that a computerized nursing model of clinical practice maybe created to take over the work of some nurses. Ultimately, technology is only as good as the engineer who made it and the user behind it. As registered nurses bridge the gap between the machines and the humane they must be educated continuously on the new products and encouraged to use evidence based practice. Comprehensive education and nursing follow up is essential because clinical systems introductions challenge nurses to develop new skill sets and competencies with that technology .
Krischke, M. (2011, July 22). Electronic Medical Record Implementation Creates Opportunities for Nurses. Retrieved September 6, 2011, from Nurse Zone: http://nursezone.com/Nursing-News-Events/devices-and-technology/Electronic-Medical-Record-Implementation-Creates-Opportunities-for-Nurses_37442.aspx
Orlovsky, C. (2011, August ). Improving Patient Safety Through Communication. Retrieved September 6, 2011, from Nurse Zone: http://nursezone.com/Nursing-News-Events/devices-and-technology/Improving-Patient-Safety-Through-Communication_37648.aspx
Orlovsky, C. (2011, March 18). Improving Patient Safety Through Health IT. Retrieved September 7, 2011, from NurseZone: http://nursezone.com/Nursing-News-Events/devices-and-technology/Improving-Patient-Safety-Through-Health-IT_36552.aspx
Runy, L. (August, 26 2011). Information Technology and Nursing. Retrieved September 6, 2011, from Hospitals and Healthcare Networks: http://www.hhnmag.com/hhnmag_app/jsp/articledisplay.jsp?dcrpath=HHNMAG/Article/data/08AUG2008/i080826HHN_Online_Runy&domain=HHNMAG