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

h1

ECRI’s Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns for 2014

June 20, 2014
safety

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 ?

h1

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 ?

h1

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 ?

h1

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 ?

h1

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 ?

h1

Do EHRs Rob Nurses of Voice and Oversimplify Description of Patient Care?

September 23, 2013

Julianna Paradisi, RN, OCN, writes a monthly post for this blog and works as an infusion nurse in outpatient oncology. Editor’s note: this post has been slightly revised for clarity since its initial publication a day ago.

 Heroines of Nursing, mixed media collage by julianna paradisi, 2013. Text by Florence Nightingale


Heroines of Nursing, mixed media collage by julianna paradisi, 2013. Text by Florence Nightingale

Previously I’ve written that I have a new employer. Part of this transition is relearning how to use the electronic health record (EHR). Fortunately, this new employer uses the same program as my last. However, that version was EHR-lite compared to the one we use now.

For instance, the new system contains an abundance of “smart phrases” that are used to lessen time spent writing nursing notes. If you are unfamiliar with smart phrases, an uncomplicated explanation is that they are preconstructed phrases chosen from those commonly found in charting, such as “The patient arrived ambulatory for IV infusion.” Instead of typing in this phrase, nurses can click on it from a computer screen menu, and voilà! The entire phrase is electronically inserted into the notes.

Smart phrases, like charting by exception (in which a nurse clicks on boxes to document a patient’s assessment, IV status, and more) are intended to allow nurses to spend more time at the bedside providing patient care, rather than writing about it. In theory, this is a good idea. However, something about using smart phrases makes me balk. Reflecting on this feeling, I realized that:

a) I write more descriptively than the authors of smart phrases, and
b) I want to chart in my own words.

On further reflection, I finally realized why so many nurses react negatively to exception-based charting: Checking boxes doesn’t allow nurses to describe what we actually do in our own words. I hadn’t understood this until now. Evidently, for me the line of tolerance is drawn at smart phrases.

Not all nurses are compelled to write as I am, but most take a great deal of pride in their work. For some, charting in the nursing notes is the only recorded evidence of their special talent for making a nursing diagnosis, implementing interventions, and reporting the outcome in the natural arc of a story.

For instance, a nurse could have a patient who is also a violinist whose chemotherapy has left her with profound peripheral neuropathy in her fingertips. She is no longer able to play the violin, which she’s long considered her life’s purpose. She relates this information to her nurse. Both patient and nurse are aware that despite this loss, the patient will not survive. They discuss the situation, maybe reaching a philosophical or spiritual peak for the patient, or maybe finding that the patient no longer wishes to continue treatment. Or maybe the patient inquires about Death with Dignity, because for her, life without the violin is not worth living.

A nurse would not chart this as I have written it above, but would include enough information to back up a need for further assessment and consultations perhaps with palliative care, spiritual care, or social services. Perhaps an antidepressant medication would help.

A template reduces the note to a report of peripheral neuropathy, and does not capture the patient’s true story, nor for that matter, the role the nurse plays in it. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Health Technology Hazards: ECRI’s Top 10 for 2013

January 4, 2013
hazard/jasleen kaur, via Flickr

hazard/jasleen kaur, via Flickr

It’s a new year and with it comes new health care technology hazards to keep in mind, as listed in the most recent ECRI Institute report, 2013 Top 10 Heath Technology Hazards. While some risks from last year’s list made a repeat appearance, a few new topics made the cut for 2013.

Alarm hazards still posed the greatest risk, topping the list at number one. Other repeat hazards included medication administration errors while using smart pumps, unnecessary radiation exposure, and surgical fires. For an overview on these, see our post from last year.

Several new opportunities for harm seemed to involve new information technology (IT) that is making its way into health care facilities, such as smartphones and mobile devices. Here’s a snapshot of several of these, and some suggestions the report gives on how to prevent them.

Patient/data mismatches in electronic health records (EHRs) and other health IT systems

The risk:
One patient’s records ending up in another patient’s file may not be a new phenomenon—it happened in traditional paper-based systems as well. But newer, more powerful health IT systems have the capability to transmit mistaken data to a variety of devices and systems, multiplying the adverse effects that could result from these errors.

Some suggestions: The report suggests that when purchasing health IT systems, facilities should consider how all the connected technologies facilitate placing the right patient data into the right record. It also states that a “patient-centric” approach is preferable to a “location-centric” one. All patient flow and device movement should be kept in mind, as well as planning for all types of transfers (not just routine ones). And during implementation of any project or software upgrade, appropriate testing should be carried out to avoid surprises.

Interoperability failures with medical devices and health IT systems

The risk:
Establishing interfaces among medical devices and IT systems has the potential to reduce errors associated with manual documentation, but achieving the appropriate exchange of data can be difficult, and can lead to patient harm. (For example, interfaces between medical devices may not work properly, systems can be incompatible, and one device can have unintended effects on another.)

Some suggestions: Although there are challenges to integrating medical devices and systems, the report stresses that health care facilities should be actively engaged in the process—albeit cautiously. An inventory of interfaced devices and systems, including software versions, should be kept. Hospitals should follow best practices as described in the International Electrotechnical Commissioner’s standards (available on the International Organization for Standardization’s Web site). When making changes to interfaced equipment, all stakeholders should be involved (and this includes nurses). Finally, before any broad system modifications are implemented, testing should be carried out to ensure everything works as expected.

Caregiver distractions from smartphones and other mobile devices

The risk: While much has been said about the security considerations associated with the use of smartphones, tablet computers, and other handheld devices, another topic that is starting to get attention is the potential for substandard patient care or even physical harm to patients if caregivers are distracted by their devices. Making mistakes or missing information as a result of distraction isn’t the only problem. Caregivers who are distracted by their devices may miss clues about the patient’s condition or cause patients to question the quality of their care.

Some suggestions: According to the report, staff should be educated about the risks associated with the use of smartphones and mobile devices, especially the potential for digital distractions that affect patient care. Hospitals should come up with a “mobile device management strategy” that includes appropriate use of the devices, including specific measures users must take to ensure safety and security. Hospitals may also want to consider restricting personal use of these devices during patient care activities.

Other hazards that topped the list for 2013 include the following:

  • air embolism hazards
  • inattention to the needs of pediatric patients when using technologies that may have been  designed for use in adults (such as radiology, oxygen concentrators, computerized provider order-entry systems, and electronic medical records)
  • inadequate reprocessing of endoscopic devices and surgical instruments

Click here to request a copy of the full report.—Amy M. Collins, editor

Bookmark and Share

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 739 other followers

%d bloggers like this: