1. Bickford, Carol J. PhD, RN-BC, CPHIMS, FHIMSS, FAAN
  2. Cochran, Kelly MS, RN

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America will celebrate National Nurses Week from May 6 to May 12, 2016. This year's National Nurses Week theme, "Culture of Safety: It starts With YOU," has special meaning to all informatics nurses and informatics nurse specialists.


The emphasis on a "culture of safety starting with you" resonates even more loudly on Nursing Informatics Day, May 12, 2016, because of Florence Nightingale's influence on nursing and her contributions to improving public health. As you help with plans to celebrate National Nurses Week 2016 in your organization, facility, school, enterprise, or community, please reflect on how your nursing informatics knowledge, skills, abilities, and judgment contribute to creating and improving a culture of safety for yourself, your colleagues, healthcare consumers, the organization, and environment.

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Although your informatics practice may focus on issues surrounding data, information, knowledge, and wisdom, concerns about ensuring safety cannot be brushed aside. Think about the problems associated with establishing the correct identification of the healthcare consumer without a unique health identifier. Then consider the safety issues and complications that arise when assessment data and other information are not correctly linked to that individual's unique identifier. Our mobile population has come to rely on healthcare services wherever they are, resulting in a potpourri of data points and information in many locations without assurance that each can be correctly accessed and attributed to the appropriate healthcare consumer.


The concern about a unique identifier is also a safety issue when addressing the healthcare team members. The Administrative Simplification provisions of HIPAA mandated the adoption of a standard, unique health identifier for each healthcare provider. The National Provider Identifier (NPI) Final Rule, published on January 23, 2004, established the NPI as that standard. Although originally aimed at administrative simplification, the NPI also supports a culture of safety surrounding the identity of healthcare team members in practice. More details about the NPI and its implementation are available at


Additional safety topics and prevention opportunities ripe for consideration every minute of every day throughout the entire year, not just garnering special attention during National Nurses Week, Nursing Informatics Day, and the 2016 Culture of Safety, are incorporated in the 2015 Nursing Informatics: Scope and Standards of Practice, Second Edition. Do check out the many, many instances addressed in the "Safety, Security, and Environmental Health" section. For example, "Informatics nurses have multiple opportunities to assist in ensuring the safety and security of health-related information technology products that support clinicians, as well as patients, families, and other caregivers."1(p34) "The implementation of electronic health records without regard to workflow analysis and redesign, human-computer interaction, prevention of errors in medication administration, and prevention of possible missed diagnosis have increased the concern for patient safety."1(p34) Plan to incorporate one or more topics in your organization's National Nurses Week activities or personal safety agenda. Commit to making a difference. Happy 2016 Nurses Week and Nursing Informatics Day!




1. American Nurses Association. Nursing Informatics: Scope and Standards of Practice. 2nd ed. Silver Spring, MD:; 2015. [Context Link]