This is a story I picked up over at medicalnewstoday.com and it’s an article coming out of the UK. The Royal College of Nursing had published a survey and I do want to caution- when these articles you never know what the questions they actually asked are so it’s very difficult to sometimes trust all the numbers when you have somebody reporting on survey findings without knowing what they specifically asked in a survey and I tip my hat to Lori Shaunley who is a colleague of mine over at correctional nurse.net as her blog and of course she’s also a panelist on Insights in Nursing podcast and she talks about that all the time as a researcher and a nurse and she likes to point out that you really need to know what the question was asked when you want to understand some of these numbers. However, let’s talk a little bit about e-patient records and their perceived security.

Do nurses or anyone really, trust electronic patient records as a secure way to manage patient files? This is just like anything we do in healthcare; there is a risk benefit relationship here. Certainly, paper records are easy to handle locally, they’re great when you have just the information you need to use right in your- not even your office but in your room, you know, the room you’re in. But how do you share records with somebody simultaneously in another part of the same building or in another part of the same town, in another part of the same country or the rest of the world when you need to appropriately? So this is one of the challenges. Certainly, paper records are very secure from being disseminated widely but they can be misappropriated and copied and abused certainly. Electronic patient records can be stored, they don’t use paper so they’re green, they also have a lot of other issues associated with them but they can be secure until they get hacked and there are lots of instances and situations where patients or people’s electronic files have been hacked. Even banks losing personal records to hackers and having people’s identities stolen, same thing will be happening in possibly in patient situations and so there are some concerns.

However, that said, here’s my personal belief. This is of course Jamie Davis’ view of things, I guess I’m biased because I’m associated with electronic media here on my websites and podcast and different things I do but we need to have a better way to make patient records more transportable for the patient’s good. How often do people travel when they’re in different parts of the- even their local region where they would go to a hospital or to a facility or provider who’s not part of their normal network of health care. There should be an easy and portable way for someone to access those records with appropriate patient permissions and protections to find out things about their patients so that they can get better care and there’ll be less opportunities for medication errors, unknown allergies and situations where the patient can’t speak for themselves. All of these things could be avoided by having access to broader patient records electronically.

Certainly, there are safeguard issues, it’s easy to disseminate electronic records if you were able to breach those protections and security measures but I think the benefits with appropriate security and continuous upgrades and vigilance certainly outweigh the risks when done appropriately so I urge you to read the article and decide where you fall on this for yourselves but the move towards electronic patient record keeping is going to happen, it’s just the nature of our computerized world.

It just doesn’t make sense to keep everything on paper anymore so we’re going to be moving in that direction and nurses should be part if the discussion so again I urge you to become actively involved in how this will be adopted so that however you use patients records, there is a component when they switch over to and electronic format that keeps nurses and the types of care that nurses provide in mind so that we can chart what we do and I think that that’s something that we need to be involved with. So keep that in mind and again you’ll find a link to this article in the shownotes for this episode and I urge you to follow up on it.

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This article has been featured in the news segment of the Nursing Show podcast episode Antipsychotic Medication Review and Episode 156

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