Archive for the ‘Health information technology (HIT)’ Category

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Nurse Informaticists Address Texas Ebola Case, EHR Design Questions

October 17, 2014

By Susan McBride, PhD, RN-BC, CPHIMS, professor and program director of the Masters in Nursing Informatics Program, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, and Mari Tietze, PhD, RN-BC, FHIMSS, associate professor and director, Interprofessional Health IT Program at Texas Woman’s University (TWU). The views expressed are those of the authors and don’t represent those of Texas Tech or TWU.

Silo_-_height_extension_by_adding_hoops_and_staves

EHRs: information ‘siloes’ or interprofessional collaboration?

The recent Ebola case in Dallas—in which a patient was admitted to the hospital three days after he visited the ER exhibiting symptoms associated with Ebola and reporting that he’d recently traveled from West Africa—brought this global public health story close to home for many of us residing in the area. As has been widely reported, the patient died last week after nearly 10 days in the hospital.

An initial focus of media coverage was the suggestion that a failure of nursing communication had contributed to the release of the patient from the hospital on his first visit. Partly reflecting evolving explanations offered by the hospital, the media focus then shifted to a potential flaw in the hospital’s electronic health record (EHR) system, in which information recorded by a nurse about the patient’s travel history might not have been visible to physicians as well. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Addressing Nurses’ Urgent Concerns About Ebola and Protective Equipment

October 15, 2014

By Betsy Todd, MPH, RN, CIC, AJN clinical editor. (See also her earlier post, “Ebola: A Nurse Epidemiologist Puts the Outbreak in Perspective.”)

This is not a time to panic. It is a time to get things right.—John Nichols, blogging for the Nation, 10/12/2014

Scanning electron micrograph of filamentous Ebola virus particles budding from an infected VERO E6 cell (35,000x magnification). Credit: NIAID

Scanning electron micrograph of filamentous Ebola virus particles budding from an infected VERO E6 cell (35,000x magnification). Credit: NIAID

For years, nurses have tolerated increasingly cheap, poorly made protective gear—one result of health care’s “race to the bottom” cost-cutting. Now the safety of personal protective equipment (PPE) is being hotly debated as the Ebola epidemic spills over into the U.S.

If all nurses had access to impermeable gowns that extended well below the knee (and could be securely closed in back, had real cuffs, and didn’t tear easily); faceguards that completely shielded; N95 respirator masks that could be properly molded to the face; and disposable leg and shoe covers, we might not be having the same conversation. Yet how much protection can we count on from the garb we now have available, especially considering the minimal donning and doffing training given to most nurses?

While there is more to be learned about possible “outlier” modes of Ebola transmission, it’s pretty clear from past experience (including recent Ebola hospitalizations at Emory University Hospital and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where no transmission has occurred) that standard, contact, and droplet precautions will virtually always prevent Ebola virus transmission. Because of the theoretical possibility that the virus could be aerosolized during procedures like intubation or suctioning, airborne precautions are usually added. (And from what we’ve seen, they’re being followed routinely, and not used only during aerosolizing procedures.)

Many organizations, including National Nurses United, are calling for hazmat-type gear and PAPR hoods (powered air-purifying respirators, which are HEPA-filtered) for staff who care for Ebola patients. Because most nurses have not used these, this more complex gear presents new challenges, especially because of the potential for self-contamination when worn and removed by untrained staff.

Specific techniques for donning and doffing PPE are not new, but many nurses have never been taught to pay attention to these details. One has only to look at staff in a contact precautions room, only half covered by their untied gowns, to understand why resistant organisms continue to spread within hospitals. Many clinicians may not have believed that their cavalier attitude towards PPE had anything to do with the next patient’s nosocomial MRSA pneumonia. During this Ebola epidemic, though, we are quickly learning that the proper use of PPE is a matter of life and death—ours. Read the rest of this entry ?

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ECRI’s Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns for 2014

June 20, 2014
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Photo © One Way Stock.

For the past few years, we’ve highlighted the ECRI Institute’s annual Top 10 Health Technology Hazards report, which provides an overview of new and old technology hazards for health care facilities to keep in mind (read this year’s post here).

Now ECRI has released a new report entitled “Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns for Healthcare Organizations.” The goal of the list, according to ECRI, is to “give healthcare organizations a gauge to check their track record in patient safety.” The list, which will be published on an annual basis, draws upon more than 300,000 patient safety events, custom research requests, and root-cause analyses submitted to the institute’s federally designated patient safety organization (PSO) for assessment. A selection from the top 10 can be found below.

Poor care coordination with a patient’s next level of care

The concern: Gaps in communication about patient care—for example, between hospital and provider, among providers, and between long-term care settings and hospitals—have been reported to ECRI’s PSO. And while it is best practice for hospitals to send a patient’s discharge information to all of a patient’s providers, this doesn’t always happen.

Some suggestions: On reason information doesn’t get passed on, according to the report, is that staff aren’t always able to identify a patient’s other providers. One strategy suggested by the report is for practices to provide current contact information, such as phone and fax numbers, on their Web sites. Electronic health records can facilitate care communication among providers, but the report stresses that organizations must establish procedures that address accessing, reviewing, and acting on the findings in those records.

Failure to adequately manage behavioral health patients in acute care settings

The concern: Despite the fact that patients’ mental health needs must be addressed in addition to their clinical needs when presenting in an acute care setting or ED, events reported to ECRI’s PSO suggest this isn’t always the case. Of particular concern is the incidence of patient violence in these settings. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Telehealth as ‘Disruptive Innovation’ in Nursing

April 18, 2014
A patient uses telehealth equipment to communicate with his nurse. Photo courtesy of Janet Grady.

A patient uses telehealth equipment to communicate with his nurse. Photo courtesy of Janet Grady.

“Telehealth: A Case Study in Disruptive Innovation” is a CE article in AJN‘s April issue. The author, Janet Grady, vice president of academic affairs and chair of the Nursing and Health Sciences Division at the University of Pittsburgh in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, describes the concept of disruptive innovations in nursing and delves into the evolving field of telehealth as a current example.

The article considers the following:

  • uses and potential uses of telehealth in chronic and acute care, home care, and rural medicine, and the evidence supporting its use.
  • obstacles to wider use and acceptance of telehealth, which include cultural resistance within nursing, licensure issues across states, reimbursement challenges, and the need to adapt nursing curriculum to these new ways of delivering care.
  • forces that drive or obstruct disruptive innovations like telehealth.

Here’s the article overview:

Technologic advances in health care have often outpaced our ability to integrate the technology efficiently, establish best practices for its use, and develop policies to regulate and evaluate its effectiveness. However, these may be insufficient reasons to put the brakes on innovation—particularly those “disruptive innovations” that challenge the status quo and have the potential to produce better outcomes in a number of important areas. This article discusses the concept of disruptive innovation and highlights data supporting its necessity within health care in general and nursing in particular. Focusing on telehealth as a case study in disruptive innovation, the author provides examples of its application and reviews literature that examines its effectiveness in both nursing practice and education.

And here’s a snapshot of some uses already being made of telehealth, an umbrella term that encompasses a broad range of activities: Read the rest of this entry ?

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Health Technology Hazards: ECRI’s Top 10 for 2014

January 15, 2014
hazard/jasleen kaur, via Flickr

hazard/jasleen kaur, via Flickr

It’s that time of year again—the ECRI Institute has released its Top 10 Health Technology Hazards for 2014 report, and with it come new (and old) hazards to keep in mind.

Alarm hazards still posed the greatest risk, topping the list at number one for the third year running. Other repeat hazards included medication administration errors while using smart pumps (in at number two), inadequate reprocessing of endoscopic devices and surgical instruments (number six), and, at number eight, risks to pediatric patients associated with technologies that may have been designed for use in adults (such as radiology, oxygen concentrators, computerized provider order–entry systems, and electronic medical records). For an overview on these, see our posts from 2012 and 2013.

And here’s a snapshot of new hazards that made the cut, along with some of the report’s suggestions on how to prevent them.

Radiation exposures in pediatric patients (#3)

The risk: Although computed tomography (CT) scans are valuable diagnostic tools, they are not without risk, and children, who are more sensitive to the effects of radiation than adults, are more susceptible to its potential negative effects. According to the report, new empirical studies suggest that “diagnostic imaging at a young age can increase a person’s risk of cancer later in life.”

Some suggestions: The report suggests that health care providers take the following actions: use safer diagnostic options, when possible, such as X-rays, MRIs, or ultrasounds; avoid repeat scanning; and use a dose that is “as low as reasonably achievable.”

Occupational radiation hazards in hybrid ORs (#5)

The risk: Hybrid ORs, which bring advanced imaging capabilities into the surgical environment, are a growing trend. However, with these angiography systems comes exposure to radiation—a risk to both patients and OR staff.

Some suggestions: According to the report, a radiation protection program is a must. The program should include training for staff, who may not have experience with imaging technology; the use of shielding with lead aprons or other lead barriers; and monitoring of radiation levels. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Not Good Nurse – Some Dark Holiday Reading

January 2, 2014

By Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

GoodNurseHaving some down time over the holidays can be a good chance to catch up on some reading. Because so much of my work entails reading manuscripts submitted to AJN about nursing practice and research, I look for my leisure reading to be something not connected to nursing.

Well, the book I recently read—a quick, engaging read—was about nursing, sort of. The book was Charles Graeber’s The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness and Murder, the story of nurse-turned-serial-killer Charles Cullen. While I find the title to be a bit sensationalist, the book is not. There’s no real answer as to why Cullen did what he did—Cullen apparently had a miserable childhood, was often a target of bullies, had failed marriages and made many suicide attempts to gain sympathy or attention. Graeber doesn’t really seek to answer the why of what Cullen did but instead focuses on his behavior and relationships.

The chilling aspect of the story is how easy it was for Cullen to get away with his killing through the use of essential technology relied on by nurses for the care of hospital patients. The medication and computer systems that he manipulated to cover his tracks also eventually allowed an intrepid nurse colleague to help police prove their case—only a nurse knowledgeable about the day-to-day use of the systems could uncover the wayward patterns.

But the real issue that comes through is how hospitals, fearing litigation, would simply dismiss Cullen when other nurses voiced concerns about his practice, allowing him to find work elsewhere and become someone else’s problem. That’s something I think many nurses might relate to—I certainly can. I worked with a couple of nurses early in my career who, when we reported to the administration that there were consistent errors in the narcotic count or missing medications when they were working, were given a chance to resign or be fired. Neither was ever reported to the board of nursing. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Tightly Scripted: One NP’s Experience with Retail Clinics

November 1, 2013

By Karen Roush, MS, RN, FNP-C, AJN clinical managing editor

Retail health clinics (walk-in clinics that are in a retail setting such as a drugstore or discount department store)KarenRoush have become an effective mode of providing increased access to care for many people and a growing source of employment for nurse practitioners (NPs). Their place in the health care arena may take on even more significance as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) increases access to care for previously uninsured people.

I worked as an NP in a retail clinic for about six months while working on my PhD. I left because of concerns I had about the model of practice. It didn’t have to do with the fact that I had to mop the floor at closing time or collect the fees and cash out the “drawer” every night. Nor because I spent eight hours alone in a small windowless room tucked away in the back of a drugstore. Those aspects were not great, but they weren’t deal breakers.

What was a deal breaker was the rigid programming of my practice. The computer was in control. From the moment the patient checked in at the kiosk outside my door, every action was determined by the computer.

The organization I worked for prided itself on following evidence-based practice, but someone forgot to tell them that the patient’s history, presentation, and personal experience, as well as a clinician’s expert knowledge, are also part of the evidence. And as much as they insisted the programming was guided by evidence, it was clearly also guided by what would result in the highest level billing code.

From the moment I entered the chief complaint in the computer, it directed me on what to include in the history and what to do for the exam. The problem was that unless I filled out all the information, I couldn’t go on to the next screen. Say I have a feverish four-year-old with tonsillitis, screaming in her mother’s arms, and the computer insists I take her blood pressure. Why? Because there is strong evidence that strep throat is associated with pediatric cardiovascular disease? Nope. It’s because the more systems you include in your exam, the higher the billing code. As a result, I find myself struggling to take an unnecessary blood pressure, causing unnecessary distress for a sick toddler. But unless I put a value in the box asking for the blood pressure, I can’t proceed with the exam. Read the rest of this entry ?

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