Academic journal article Creative Nursing

Ode to the Kardex

Academic journal article Creative Nursing

Ode to the Kardex

Article excerpt

In the days before computers, nurses needed a paper-based system to organize their time and manage all the tasks of their shift . One process that was used by some nurses in 1932 was a board lined with thumbtacks (Larson, 1932). Between each set of thumbtacks was a small index card containing all the information about one patient on that unit. The board was used to provide a summary of all the patients on that unit.

This system was then improved upon by the Rand Kardex Corporation. This corporation developed a notebook-sized tool comprising 15-20 pockets mounted closely together in an overlapping pattern and hinged so that they could be flipped up out of the way (Thompson, 1932). The Kardex (or the Rand, as it was called by many nurses) was a card indexing system used to provide a synopsis of each patient on a unit, including name, diagnosis, treatments, medications, diet, and other pertinent information, written in pencil so that it could be updated easily. Each new order written by the physician was transcribed from the chart to the Kardex. The Kardex was kept at the nurses' desk so that all the nurses had easy access to the information. When the patient went home, his or her card was discarded.

In facilities where computer documentation has become the norm, the Kardex has become obsolete. Even though the Kardex was not always up to date, and wasn't always easy to read because it was written in pencil, it provided easy access to patient information and, if well kept, demonstrated personalized care for each patient. …

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