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Critical care nursing, Electronic health records, Nursing, Qualitative studies



  1. Despins, Laurel A. PhD, RN
  2. Wakefield, Bonnie J. PhD, RN, FAAN


Failure to detect patient deterioration signals leads to longer stays in the hospital, worse functional outcomes, and higher hospital mortality rates. Surveillance, including ongoing acquisition, interpretation, and synthesis of patient data by the nurse, is essential for early risk detection. Electronic medical records promote accessibility and retrievability of patient data and can support patient surveillance. A secondary analysis was performed on interview data from 24 intensive care unit nurses, collected in a study that examined factors influencing nurse responses to alarms. Six themes describing nurses' use of electronic medical record information to understand the patients' norm and seven themes describing electronic medical record design issues were identified. Further work is needed on electronic medical record design to integrate documentation and information presentation with the nursing workflow. Organizations should involve bedside nurses in the design of handoff formats that provide key information common to all intensive care unit patient populations, as well as population-specific information.