There are many ways that I use informatics in the area of nursing that I am currently in. One of the forms of informatics that I use daily is related directly to patient safety in forms of medication pyxis pull stations and patient barcoding for medication administration. These forms of informatics ensures patient safety as well as provides information that is pertinent prior to administration. Medication dispensary pyxis contains a list of medications that are ordered for the patient and instructs you how many of the medication should be taken for the dose. Patient barcoding alerts the nurse of incorrect medication, dosage discrepancies, allergies, and medication incompatibilities. By scanning a patient’s barcode and the medication, this performs many of the basic nursing checks when administering medications: right patient, right medication, right dose, right time, etc. In an article by Anne Woods (2003), she states “research clearly demonstrates that the use of computerized prescriber order entry and barcoding successfully decreases error rates” (par 6).
I think the largest and most obvious ethical issue from the use of informatics in nursing is the breach of EHR systems. In our hospital, a couple of years ago there had been an attempted breach of our system which prompted our organization to place extended firewalls to ensure medical information. The attempted breach was unsuccessful and the helped the facility increase efforts and awareness to prevent further such attacks. Staff are now emailed mock phishing emails to educate staff on how to detect these types of emails, report them, and to prevent future attempts. As health care workers, the EHR is an asset which improves healthcare across the span of a patient’s life. As noted by Hood, “When consumers receive care from an integrated health system, EHRs can be accessed nearly seamlessly” (p 355). The benefit of continuity of care and accessing data to treat patients more effectively and efficiently is important and safeguard increases must be taken to protect this tool from the risks it poses.
Woods, A. (2003, September). Patient safety: Not a question of competence. Nursing Management, 34(9), 6. https://oce-ovid-com.chamberlainuniversity.idm.oclc.org/article/00006247-200309000-00001/HTMLLinks to an external site.
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Hood, Lucy. (2017). Leddy & Pepper’s Professional Nursing, 9th Edition. [Vitalsource Bookshelf]. Retrieved from https://online.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781496351388/cfi/6/52!/4/2/76/4@0:88.0
Agnes (as cited in Hood, 2018) states informatics is the science of information that strives for improved efficiency with regard to the gathering, organization, and dissemination of information. Downman (2018, p. 30), states nursing informatics is the integration of nursing science “with multiple information and analytical sciences.” A combination of nursing, data and analytics, and computer science helping “to put evidence-based care in the hands of nurses at the point of care” (Downman, 2018, p. 30).
Information collection, through advances in technology like the glucometers Tracy mentioned in her post, has seen increased efficiency and safety through informatics. I think another great contribution made by technology is the barcode scanning system of medications to help prevent errors.
In terms of improving the organization of data, I use informatics in my practice to easily trend clinical findings. The EMR organizes lab values and vital signs in a way that makes it easy to view changes over time. A graph feature is also available to better visualize these changes.
In addition, informatics also improves the dissemination, or availability, of information through the EMR. Multiple healthcare providers can simultaneously review records and discuss a patient from their own computer or device and “when you’re looking at the same data, that improves care” (Downman, 2018, p. 31). In addition, I can send a message from my computer to a physician’s smart phone to, for example, let them know that the results of a particular test are available to view. This aids my nursing practice through improved communication and by increasing the rate at which decisions regarding patient care are made.
Since patient information is so easily disseminated, through informatics, privacy has become a very important issue that has arisen from its use in professional nursing. One could view the EHR of any patient in the hospital, if one were so inclined. Due to this reality, accounts are tracked and punishments are steep because, “with the use of technology in professional nursing practice comes great responsibility” (Chamberlain College of Nursing, 2016).
Chamberlain College of Nursing. (2016). NR351 Transitions in professional nursing: Week 7 lesson: Informatics and Technology. Downers Grove, IL: Online Publication.
Downman, S. (2018). The power of nursing informatics in streamlining patient data, (Tran, M., Interviewer). Nursing Review, (6), 30-31.
Hood, L. J. (2018). Leddy & Pepper’s conceptual bases of professional nursing (9th edition). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.