Kicking off the news this week for nurses is a look at a survey from the Harris Poll, commissioned by the Gary and Mary West Health Institute, that looked at how health IT is impacting patient care. The survey of over 500 nurses found that the way that devices fail to connect with each other and operate in tandem with other devices is a factor in patient medical errors.

Health IT and Patient Care Errors

nurse-health-IT-informaticsFifty percent of the nurses in the survey stated that they had witnessed an error in patient care directly related to lack of interoperability between medical devices and health records. When devices do communicate with each other and the electronic health record, they often do so imperfectly leading to errors in care.

The challenge is that when devices are used and the data from them is manually transferred to the electronic health record, mistakes also happen frequently. This means that while direct electronic communication is preferable over manual communication, the way devices talk to each other has not yet reached a point where it is seamless.

In fact, according to the nurses responses, it can be a point of concern when caring for patients because the nurse at the bedside cannot be sure that the information was transmitted correctly or not. The nurses in the survey did think that if this problem could be solved and if device communicated perfectly, that one quarter to one half of medical and medication errors could be prevented.

I’m going to the Nurse Informatics Conference later this month and I’ll make sure to ask more questions about this to the experts there. If you have other questions you’d like me to ask, let me know.

Make sure you follow-up on the links for this news item and all of the other news and additional resource links from this week’s episode – Working to Better Hospice and Palliative Care and Episode 339.

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