The medical field comprises a vast base of knowledge. Computer storage serves as the best way to house all this information. There are many types of computers that can help with diagnosing illnesses, doing procedures to treat illnesses, and even helping to reduce the degree of invasive procedures during testing. Many facilities are also switching from handwriting patient information logs to computerized patient logs. Including computers in each patient’s room to have their entire file readily available and easily accessible to retrieve and record new patient information. There are more computers than I can name that are used for medical purposes. With many of these we are able to provide many types of tests that can save lives and help in early detection of illnesses. Some include: Ultrasound, MRI and CT, Mammograms, and EKG.
Computers in the medical field have made such advancement, particularly in nursing. With such a shortage of nurses, hospitals are trying to find a way to improve the efficiency of their nurses. More and more hospitals across the country are now using mobile computers. These mobile computers are also know as COWS (computers on wheels). Hospitals are using these mobile computers as the nurses station. By using the computers, nurses have access to all their patients information, medical records, diagnostic equipment, barcode scanners, etc. This cuts down on time they would otherwise use to run around gathering this information.
Nurses have begun using computers to assess patients on point of admission in the privacy of the patients room. While the patients is being assessed, the nurse is able to see previous admissions, pertinent medical information, medication, and doctors’ notes. Using the computer also gives the nurse more time to spend with her patient.
After the initial assessment, nurses can also use the computer to begin writing a plan of care, record interventions and outcomes, and communicate the information to other departments. Another great aspect of using the computer, is the elimination of trying to read illegible handwriting. Once a doctors orders is in the computer the nurse is able to clearly read them and dictate to the patient. This cuts down on time spent paging the doctor and waiting for a call back simply to clarify an order. This also helps to get medication doses correct.
Medication errors are also being reduced due to the use of computers. Most hospitals are now using bar code scanners while administering medication. The nurse scans the patients armband, then scans the barcode on the medication. If the medication is not for that patient, an alert will come across the computer screen. Or sometime a patient is prescribed a new medication that cannot be taken with another. Most of the computer systems have this information so another alert will come up of this is the case.
There are a few disadvantages of using a computer. If there is a problem with the computer system that causes it to go offline then it delays the nurse in all she needs to do, give medication, chart, etc.
In conclusion, computers have made so many improvements in the medical field. There is more time spent with the patient instead of charting. The computer can flag unsafe medications, providing medication safeguards. Quick return of lab results is another advantage because all the results will be stored in the computer. Using the computer for e-mail, consults, etc, will shorten wasted time and improve communication between departments. Discharge instructions can be given to the patient as an easy to read list tailored to their diagnosis and needs instead of the old-fashioned paper with notes scribbled across the bottom. Most importantly, the use of computers improves the quality of patient care. The are not really any disadvantages to using computers, but one has to remember, the computer is only as good as the person entering information into it.
Eggland, Ellen Thomas “Using Computers to Document.” Nursing 27.1 (2007) MasterFILE Premier. EBSCO
Lippencott, Williams & Williams “Using Computers to speed up the nursing process.” Nursing 32.8 (2008): 70. MasterFILE Premier. EBSCO
“Medicine Meets the Computer” Wilson Quarterly; Summer 2009, Vol.33 Issue 3, p 83-84