A pre–post interventional study to reduce time spent on clinical documentation by nurses and midwives

Alannah L. Cooper, Matthew A. Albrecht, Suzanne Kelly, Siobhan P. Eccles, Janie A. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Aim: To evaluate the impact of a co-designed intervention to reduce time spent on clinical documentation and increase time for direct patient care. Design: A pre- and post-test interventional study with multi-method evaluation, reported according to the Transparent Reporting of Evaluations with Nonrandomised Evaluations Designs guidelines. Methods: An intervention to decrease the burden of documentation was co-designed and implemented. Pre- and post-intervention data were collected via time and motion studies and the Burden of Documentation for Nurses and Midwives (BurDoNsaM) survey. Documentation audits were conducted to assess intervention fidelity. Results: Twenty-six shifts were observed (13 pre-intervention, 13 post-intervention). Although the coronavirus pandemic contributed to decreases in staffing levels by 38% (from 118 to 73 staff), the number of task episodes completed increased post-intervention, across all shift patterns. Documentation took less time to complete post-intervention when assessing time per episode. A mean increase of 201 episodes was observed on morning shifts, 78 on evening shifts and 309 on night shifts. There were small increases for time spent on direct patient care compared to pre-intervention but there was less time per episode. Results from the BurDoNsaM survey indicated that participants felt documentation took less time post-intervention. Documentation audits found completion improved as staff gained familiarity, but deteriorated when staffing levels were reduced. Conclusion: The intervention was able to reduce time spent completing documentation, increasing the time available for direct patient care. Implications for the profession and/or patient care: Completing clinical documentation is part of the daily work of nurses and midwives. Clinical documentation needs to accurately capture key information in a concise and streamlined manner to avoid unnecessary burdens and release time for direct patient care. Impact: This study tested a co-designed intervention to address the burden of clinical documentation for nurses and midwives, The intervention reduced time spent on clinical documentation and increased time for direct patient care, This study could be replicated to reduce the burden of clinical documentation in other settings and benefit clinicians and patients by releasing more time for direct patient care. Reporting Method: The study is reported using the Transparent Reporting of Evaluations with Nonrandomised Evaluations Designs (TREND) guidelines. Patient or Public Contribution: The research project and intervention evaluated in this study were co-designed through a clinician-researcher collaboration. A research team that consisted of clinically based nurses and midwives and nurse scientists was formed to address the burden of clinical documentation. As the end-users of clinical documentation, the clinically based nurse and midwife co-investigators were involved in the design, conduct, interpretation of the data, and preparation of the manuscript.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1452-1463
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Volume80
Issue number4
Early online date20 Nov 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024

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