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The Pros and Cons of Digital Charting

Often times, time management is a challenge to new staff or even staff that has been in the workforce a long time. A new electronic patient record documentation system (EPRDS) was implemented in the hospital where I used to work and most staff attended the in-service. The EPRDS is familiar to the nursing staff in this hospital, but most people needed a refresher course on this new version of documentation. The previous program was initiated five years ago.

The new program is an upgrade of the current electronic patient record documentation system. A new feature of this program is the direct physician order entry. The physician will now enter the order in the new documentation system that goes directly to various disciplines or departments where it is reviewed and processed. For example, the patient’s diet order will go to the dietary department where it is reviewed, processed and the diet is delivered to the designated unit. When the physician orders medication, the pharmacist will review it, and sends the medication to the designated unit. This direct order from the doctor to the pharmacy will ensure that the correct medication and dosage is delivered for the nurse to give to the patient. Because the pharmacist is the one who interprets the doctor’s order and it is the pharmacist who verifies the order. With this new process of medication transcription, a medication error is most likely minimized or eliminated. The EPRDS facilitates review of the patient records, advocacy of the patient’s needs, and collaboration of nursing care with other disciplines because duplication is reduced thus time is well spent. In addition, because it is a digital record, time is saved by not having to search through paper records. In addition it is cost effective to the organization.

However, there is a new challenge that arises among the staff in the use of the new electronic documentation system. Learning the new icons and the new format can be tedious and time consuming. Combining computer proficiency and fulfilling direct patient care can be challenging each day. Spending time just completing the documentation on the computer leads to less time spent at the bedside. A good knowledge and application of time management skills is very important.

According to Stephen Covey, who wrote the book on “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” time management is the ability to “organize and execute around priorities.” When providing patient care at bedside, nursing tasks must be prioritized in order to provide safe patient care. Direct patient care, patient education, and especially nursing documentation are the important aspects of a nurse’s daily routine and must be done with accuracy. As the saying goes in nursing, “If it is not documented it is most likely not done.” Additional activities such as attending committee meetings, making nursing referrals, and attending mandatory classes can take up the nurse’s time and delay completion of nursing tasks. All these must be taken into consideration when organizing and prioritizing activities.

Tips for digital documentation
  • Keep the electronic documentation quick reference guide handy.

  • Ask for assistance from the superuser staff.

  • Set up the digital personal patient list.

  • Set the goals for the day.

  • Place your patient information timely.

  • Review entry notes for accuracy.

  • Safeguard password and logout if moving away from the computer to see patient.


  • Just remember that time is precious. As Napoleon Hill, the famous writer said, “Do not wait; the time will never be ''just right.'' Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.”




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    Content copyright © 2013 by Helen V. Calalang-Javier, MSN, RNC, IBCLC. All rights reserved.
    This content was written by Helen V. Calalang-Javier, MSN, RNC, IBCLC. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Editor Wanted for details.



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