From Chron: Modern nursing care has been called a mixture of high tech and high touch, a way to describe the traditional nurturing and compassion of a nurse in combination with the advanced health care technology of the 21st century. Technology, such as computers and monitoring equipment, is used in nearly every aspect of nursing. Many of the applications nurses use are wireless.Today’s nurses must not only know how to care for patients, but how to use technology safely and appropriately in their day-to-day work.
by Beth Greenwood
Computer technology is one of the most common applications used in nursing. Nurses use computers to schedule staff, for timekeeping, to order medications or supplies, and for research and email. In some organizations, nurses use computers for all patient care documentation, using systems called electronic health records or electronic medical records – EHRs and EMRs. A nurse who uses an EMR may document medication dosages, administration, dressing changes and other treatments in the computer, rather than on paper.
Monitoring systems are technological devices that allow a nurse to obtain patient information. These devices include fetal monitors, which can show the heart rate of a baby still in the uterus; heart monitors that display the electrical rhythm and pattern of a patient’s heart; and vital sign machines that automatically take the patient’s blood pressure, pulse and respiration. Other monitoring systems measure pressure inside the heart or brain or the amount of oxygen in a patient’s blood. Systems built into the hospital bed report a patient’s weight or movement during sleep.
Hospital patients often have intravenous lines that are threaded through technological devices that control the flow and sound an alarm if the line becomes kinked or plugged. Other alarms warn the nurse if the IV bag or bottle is getting empty. Some machines can even switch back and forth from a a primary IV solution to a separate IV antibiotic solution without human intervention. A patient in an intensive care unit may be attached to several IV monitors at once.
Safety in medication administration dictates the use of bar-coding and scanners in many hospitals. In the past, human vigilance was the only protection against medication errors. Now medications come prepackaged with a bar code that the nurse scans prior to administration. Patient armbands are also bar-coded, and the patient’s band is scanned as well. The system will sound an alert if the patient is allergic to a medication or if the nurse selects the wrong medication or patient.