Nursing Documentation: Frameworks and Barriers

By Blair, Wendy; Smith, Barbara | Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession, June 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Nursing Documentation: Frameworks and Barriers


Blair, Wendy, Smith, Barbara, Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession


The quality of nursing documentation is an important issue for nurses both nationally and internationally. It is clear from many cases on the New Zealand Health and Disability Commissioner Website (Health and Disability Commissioner, 2009) that issues related to poor nursing documentation need to be urgently addressed. Different nursing documentation methods such as SOAPIE are used to provide frameworks that guide nursing documentation. However these methods do not necessarily meet the documentation needs of busy clinical areas in the current health environment because they focus on single problem entries and patients are often complex with multiple problems.

Nursing documentation in our organisation has lacked a clear rationale for clinical decisions and evidence of critical thinking. In order to deal with this issue a project group was established to look at different methods of nursing documentation. The aim of this project was to identify a method that would encourage critical thinking by using a problem based approach. This article provides a summary of the literature reviewed at the commencement of this project and a summary of the framework chosen as a result of this review.

The review of literature sought to identify current methods of nursing documentation in order to identify any that could be used to improve the quality of nursing progress notes. A literature search was performed using CINAHL and MEDLINE. Key words used included the following; documentation, progress notes, and nursing reports. The review focused on documentation methods, problem orientated documentation, barriers to documentation, risk management, and legal implications. Literature published between 1998 and 2011 was reviewed. Some seminal pieces of literature have been included from 1974 to 1997 as these provide relevant background information. Much of the more recent literature available is in the form of systematic reviews with a focus on electronic documentation (Kelly, Brandon, & Dicherty, 2011), audit instruments (Wang, Hailey, & Yu, 2011), and accuracy of documentation (Paans, Nieweg, Van der Schans, & Sermeus, 2011) which have not been discussed in this paper.

Much of the available literature accessed was related to nursing documentation within acute care settings and originated from Europe (Darmer et al., 2006; Ehrenberg & Birgersson, 2003; Ehrenberg, Ehnfors, & Thorell-Ekstrand, 1996; Hellesø & Ruland, 2001; Idvall & Ehrenberg, 2002) with a focus on electronic documentation (Gjevjon & Hellesø, 2010; Häyrinen & Saranto, 2009; Kelly et al., 2011; Laitinen, Kaunonen, & Astedt-Kurki, 2010). Several articles were direct translations from their original language making some of the information hard to decipher and resulting in the original meaning being lost (Ioanna, Stiliani, & Vasiliki, 2007; Karlsen, 2007).

Relevant Australian literature was sparse and covered issues related to documentation in aged care settings (Daskein, Moyle, & Creedy, 2009; Pelletier, Duffield, & Donoghue, 2005) and a hospital wide nursing documentation project (Tranter, 2009). A specific search for New Zealand literature uncovered one publication which outlined the SOAP method of documentation (Gagan, 2009), and discussed the benefits and advantages of using this framework. Also present were articles aimed at providing nurses and other health care professionals with extra guidance about different methods of documentation and the important components of legally prudent progress notes (Burgum, 1996; Dimond, 2005b; Griffith, 2004; Grooper & Dicapo, 1995). A variety of guidelines to assist with development of institutional policies for nursing documentation were also located via the internet (College of Nurses Ontario [CNO], 2005; College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia [CRNBC], n.d.; Nurses Board of South Australia [NBSA], 2006).

NURSING DOCUMENTATION FRAMEWORKS

Quality of documentation is an important issue for the current nursing workforce in New Zealand. …

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