• Study
  • Published June 2017

Safe practice recommendations for the use of copy-forward with nursing flow sheets in hospital settings.

Electronic medical records offer users the ability to copy information forward from note to note. This practice is nearly universal, despite the attendant safety risks that may result if incorrect or outdated information is propagated in this fashion. Although most attention has focused on copying and pasting by physicians, nurses may use this function as well. This AHRQ-funded study used a multiple stakeholder approach to develop consensus recommendations for nurses' copy-forward practices, seeking to establish a balance between patient safety and nurses' work efficiency. Investigators recommend that copying and pasting should be allowed, but that copied text should be easily identifiable within the electronic medical record, staff should receive formal training on the appropriate and safe use of copy-forward, and the practice should be monitored and assessed by supervisors. Efforts to limit copying and pasting will likely continue to be hindered by the fact that most clinicians do not perceive that copy-forward practices pose patient safety risks, despite examples to the contrary.

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