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Critical issues in an electronic documentation system

Weir CR, Nebeker JR. Critical issues in an electronic documentation system. AMIA ... Annual Symposium proceedings / AMIA Symposium. AMIA Symposium. 2007 Oct 11; 786-90.

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The Veterans Health Administration (VHA), of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs has instituted a medical record (EMR) that includes electronic documentation of all narrative components of the medical record. To support clinicians using the system, multiple efforts have been instituted to ease the creation of narrative reports. Although electronic documentation is easier to read and improves access to information, it also may create new and additional hazards for users. This study is the first step in a series of studies to evaluate the issues surrounding the creation and use of electronic documentation. Eighty-eight providers across multiple clinical roles were interviewed in 10 primary care sites in the VA system. Interviews were tape-recorded, transcribed and qualitatively analyzed for themes. In addition, specific questions were asked about perceived harm due to electronic documentation practices. Five themes relating to difficulties with electronic documentation were identified: 1) information overload; 2) hidden information; 3) lack of trust; 4) communication; 5) decision-making. Three providers reported that they knew of an incident where current documentation practices had caused patient harm and over 75% of respondents reported significant mis-trust of the system.

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