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Nurs Ethics. 2005 Mar;12(2):123-32.

Documentation of individualized patient care: a qualitative metasynthesis.

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Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland.


The aim of this study was to increase understanding of how individual patient care and the ethical principles prescribed for nursing care are implemented in nursing documentation. The method used was a metasynthesis of the results of 14 qualitative research reports. The results indicate that individualized patient care is not visible in nurses' documentation of care. It seems that nurses describe their tasks more frequently than patients' experiences of their care. The results also show that the structure of nursing documentation and the forms or manner of recording presupposed by the organization may prevent individual recording of patient care. In order to obtain visibility for good patient-centred and ethical nursing care, an effort should be made to influence how the content of nursing care is documented and made an essential part of individual patient care. If the content of this documentation does not give an accurate picture of care, patients' right to receive good nursing care may not be realized.

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