Nurses Benefit from CPOE, Too
By Sara Houser, MSN
Sara Houser is the Chief Nursing Officer at Ashe Memorial Hospital in Jefferson, NC.
The “P” in “CPOE” stands for physician, but nurses also realize significant workflow benefits when a well-designed inpatient CPOE system is implemented at a hospital.
Consider for starters how much time nurses spend “deciphering” physicians’ handwritten orders. The fundamental premise (and benefit) of CPOE is that physicians enter their medication, lab, and test orders directly into a computer, eliminating handwriting as a variable – and, therefore, the need for a nurse to spend time translating a doctor’s illegible chicken-scratch into English.
Then there’s the familiar, wildly inefficient telephone orders process. When doctors phone in an order from off-premises to a nurse at the hospital, it sets in motion a series of steps that collectively take a lot of time (for the nurse and the physician), and that are prone to misunderstanding and error. Instead, if the physician were to enter the order into a CPOE system using their smartphone or tablet, from wherever they may be, the nursing workflow is streamlined dramatically, and the opportunity for error is minimized.
Nurses also frequently are called upon to chase down patient charts to help a physician place an order – checking for patient allergies, for example – to accomplish manually something that would be flagged automatically by a CPOE system.
CPOE does not completely remove nurses from the patient orders workflow, of course, nor should it. Consistent verbal communication between physicians and nurses will always be one of the greatest guarantors of patient safety, when it comes to orders and every aspect of inpatient care. But clearly CPOE offers nurses a lot of workflow benefits, so nurses should be actively involved in advocating for and evaluating their hospital’s CPOE solution.