Do Information Systems Affect Adverse Events in Hospitals - and the Workload of Nurses?

Measuring the impact of communications technologies on nurses

In the late 1990s, the Veterans Administration (VA) implemented two major information systems covering electronic patient records and the administration of medications. VA administrators expected the technologies to reduce errors in patient care and improve the work environment for staff.

From November 2004 to July 2008, researchers with the School of Nursing at the University of California, San Francisco, measured the effect of the two information systems on the number of adverse events—that is, avoidable complications resulting from medical treatment—experienced by patients and the hours worked by nurses.

They found that most VA staff and managers view the information systems as important and useful in helping ensure that the VA provides excellent care to veterans.

There were few relationships between the implementation of the information systems over time and changes in the number of adverse events. Also, payroll data indicated that staffing hours did not change with the implementation of the new information technologies.

Adequate training, equipment and staff resources and stable positive leadership contributed to smoother implementation and greater acceptance of the new technologies.