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Contemp Nurse. 2012 Jun;41(2):160-8. doi: 10.5172/conu.2012.41.2.160.

Nursing documentation: frameworks and barriers.

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NZNO, HWNZ Post Graduate Coordinators Group, MidCentral Health Nurse Governance Council, Palmerston North, New Zealand.


The quality of nursing documentation is an important issue for nurses both nationally and internationally. Nursing documentation should, but often does not show the rational and critical thinking behind clinical decisions and interventions, while providing written evidence of the progress of the patient. A number of frameworks are currently available to assist with nursing documentation including narrative charting, problem orientated approaches, clinical pathways, and focus notes. However many nurses still experience barriers to maintaining accurate and legally prudent documentation. A review of nursing documentation of patient care and progress towards achieving outcome goals in our organisation identified a lack of clear and easy to follow information about the patient's progress. In order to address with this issue a project group was established to look at different frameworks for nursing documentation. The aim of the project was to identify and implement a documentation framework that would encourage critical thinking and provide evidence of the rationale for nursing actions utilising a problem based approach in order to provide accurate evidence of patient progress. This paper provides a synopsis of available literature related to the frameworks mentioned above, highlights barriers to safe, timely and accurate documentation for nurses, and concludes with an explanation of the framework chosen as a result of this review.

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