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Nurses unsure of electronic health records

27 July 2007

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Nurses want more IT training if an electronic patient record system is to be put in place, a new survey shows.

Two thirds of nurses have not been consulted as to the introduction of a new record system, shows a Royal College of Nursing survey, nor have they received any IT training within the last six months.

RCN General Secretary DR Peter Carter said the lack of consultation and engagement with nurses is “disappointing”.

He adds that “if electronic patient records are to be introduced in the right way with staff fully engaged and involved, the health service has to get to grips with this problem before it is too late”

Many nurses are uncomfortable and apprehensive of using computers due to a lack of machines, he says.

“We cannot have a situation where nursing staff are waiting in line with 20 or more people for time on a computer to carry out essential documentation,” he says.

“Equally, we cannot have a system that is dependent on so few computers to facilitate care.”

Although receptive of its introduction, nurses are also dubious to what impact an electronic system will have on patient care, safety and confidentiality.

Only half of nurses surveyed believe that electronic records will improve patient safety, while a third feel security will be no better than it was with paper records.