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Nurses Save Time, Prevent Frustration with Computer Carts in Patient Rooms

HCPro's Advisor to the ANCC Magnet Recognition Program®, November 17, 2009

When the University of Colorado Hospital (UCH) moved to a new facility in July 2007, it saw an opportunity to improve nurse satisfaction by upgrading the computer process nurses used at the bedside. The Aurora-based hospital first received ANCC Magnet Recognition Program® (MRP) designation in 2002 and was resdesignated in 2006.

In the old facility, nurses in med-surg areas had their own carts assigned to them, which they had to roll from patient room to patient room as they made their rounds so they could use the computer on the cart as they administered medication and documented at the bedside.

The carts were a huge frustration for nurses, according to Kathy Smith, MS, PMC, RN, supervisor, nursing informatics—and former MRP project director—for UCH. The carts were difficult to roll on the carpet in the hallways when moving from one patient room to another, and if the cart encountered a bump, it often logged nurses off the computer, so they had to start again when they reached the patient room. The computers also had batteries—which made the carts heavy to maneuver, and needed to be recharged all the time—and nurses found the batteries were always dying at the wrong moment.

Smith relates that many times the batteries needed to be replaced, which increased workload for the IT staff. In addition, UCH realized that having one cart per nurse wouldn't work with the new bar code medication administration it system was implementing.

"We could see right away that was not going to work," says Smith. "It would require that every time a nurse wanted to administer a medication, she would have to go find her cart, unplug it, move it into the room, then plug it back in, then boot it up, then administer the meds."

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