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Acad Emerg Med. 2004 Nov;11(11):1127-34.

Where's the beef? The promise and the reality of clinical documentation.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Maimonides Medical Center, 4802 Tenth Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11219, USA.


Physician-generated emergency department clinical documentation (information obtained from clinician observations and summarized decision processes inclusive of all manner of electronic systems capturing, storing, and presenting clinical documentation) serves four purposes: recording of medical care and communication among providers; payment for hospital and physician; legal defense from medical negligence allegations; and symptom/disease surveillance, public health, and research functions. In the consensus development process described by Handler, these objectives were balanced with the consideration of efficiency, often evaluated as physician time and clinical documentation system costs, in recording the information necessary for their accomplishment. The consensus panel session participants and authors recommend that 1) clinical documentation be electronically retrievable; 2) selection and implementation be evidence-based and grounded on valid metrics (research is needed to identify these metrics); 3) the user interface be crafted to promote clinical excellence through high-quality information collection and efficient charting techniques; 4) the priorities for integration of clinical information be standardized and implemented within enterprises and across health and information systems; 5) systems use accepted standards for bidirectional, real-time clinical data exchange, without limiting the location or number of simultaneous users; 6) systems fully utilize existing electronic sources of specific patient information and general medical knowledge; 7) systems automatically and reliably capture appropriate data that support electronic billing for emergency department services; and 8) systems promote bedside documentation and mobile access.

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