Nurses want delay on EHR go-live, cite lack of training

Registered nurses at Affinity Medical Center--a 266-bed facility in Massillon, Ohio--are asking hospital officials to delay the go-live of an electronic medical record system, set for Friday, until the hospital agrees to proceed in a "safe" manner with the nurses. According to an announcement from National Nurses United, the RNs--represented by affiliate National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC) in Ohio--haven't had sufficient training and fear putting patients at risk.

Implementation of the EMR took place without bargaining with the NNOC, according to the nurses, which they said is a violation of federal labor law.

In a letter to hospital officials, the RNs outlined their concerns, citing that the Institute of Medicine concluded that failing to include the RNs in the EMR transition is "one of the most significant barriers" to a successful and safe implementation.

"RNs who actually use these systems day in and day out have found that the kind of care they can provide with this new technology is limited," NNOC co-president Cokie Giles said in the announcement. "The programs are often counterintuitive, cumbersome to use, and sometimes simply malfunction. Nurses are finding that the technology is taking time away from patients and fundamentally changing the nature of nursing."

Hospital representatives painted a different picture of the story in an article published this week in The Independent. Susan Koosh, vice president of marketing and community relations at Affinity, said the EMR's guidelines call for 16 hours of training for each nurse. Nearly 95 percent of the nurses have met that requirement, she said. In addition, Koosh said, the hospital has offered extra training.

"To suggest that Affinity has not provided sufficient training or adequate staffing--or that we would ever put patients at risk--is blatantly false and irresponsible," Koosh told the newspaper. "Our computer system is built with safeguards to ensure continuous operations, while the external training site does not have such protections."

Last month, nurses from Marin General Hospital in Greenbae, Calif. deemed the hospital's computerized physician order entry system unsafe for patients, pointing out the need for leaders of hospitals and nurses to work together to improve patient outcomes with technology, going beyond training, board meetings and union action.

To learn more:
- read the announcement from National Nurses United
- read the article in The Independent

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