The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2011 OPEN FORUM Abstracts


Terrence F. Smith, Daniel J. Grady; Respiratory Care, Mission Health System, Asheville, NC

Background: Multiple regulatory agencies and state licensure laws require accurate documentation of Respiratory Care services. Computer documentation has become the norm for this function. Although some computer systems have been specifically designed for Respiratory Care services, it is not uncommon for hospital information systems designed for other healthcare providers to be modified for use by Respiratory Care services. Modifications of general systems may not consider the multiple age-specific patients groups, geographic locations, and unique processes required for delivery of Respiratory Care services. The purpose of this statewide study was to evaluate the types of computer systems in use, time spent in computer documentation, downtime associated with equipment failure, efficiency, costs, and Respiratory Therapist satisfaction with computer systems in acute care hospitals.. Methods: A voluntary statewide survey was distributed to 4,343 Respiratory Care Practitioners in North Carolina with a total of 273 responses (n=273) producing a 6% response rate and a 99.6% completion rate. Results: The survey identified usage of computer systems specifically designed for Respiratory Care services and general systems modified for use by Respiratory Therapists. The survey revealed both negative and positive trends were which are summarized in the table below. Multiple negative issues were related to general, modified systems which required excessive time for computer documentation, inefficient and redundant activities such as multiple logins, downtime due to equipment failure, and staff dissatisfaction with specific computer systems. Positive trends included improved access to medical record information, improved legibility due to computerized physician order entry, and; improved patient safety via reduced medication errors. Conclusions: This survey indicates wide variations in the quality, ease of use, operational efficiency, and time spent in documentation using hospital computer systems. Depending on the system used, tremendous opportunities exist to improve efficiency, consistency with regulatory compliance, and improve Respiratory Care staff satisfaction with computerized hospital information systems.
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Table 1: Statewide Survey Results for Computer Issues Reported By Respiratory Therapists in Acute Care Hospitals (n = 273).