"There has been no planned increase in staffing and no decrease in elective procedures during the time of the transition."
Citing insufficient training, system shortfalls and the hospital's failure to involve direct-care nurses in the implementation process, RNs at the 266-bed Affinity Medical Center in northern Ohio have asked hospital officials to delay the rollout of its new Cerner electronic medical records system.
The 250 or so direct-care nurses at AMC, represented by the National Nurses Organizing Committee — a national union representing nurses — have attempted to postpone the EMR go-live date, which is slated for June 21.
"Nurses are very disturbed that the hospital would fundamentally alter the practice of nursing at Affinity Medical Center without consulting and including direct-care RNs in this process," Affinity RN Facility Bargaining Council wrote in a June 14 letter sent to AMC chief nursing officer William Osterman — and obtained by Healthcare IT News.
Nurses also called into question the safety of such a system that prevents registered nurses from overriding the EMR in many cases.
"There has been no planned increase in staffing and no decrease in elective procedures during the time of the transition," the letter continues.
"We're not anti-technology," said National Nurses United spokesperson Liz Jacobs, RN, in a June 19 interview with Healthcare IT News. "We want smart technology that embraces and includes the clinical expertise of a registered nurse who really knows how best to put together a system that will work for them."
Jacobs said some nurses have only received one day of training; she also cited unclear communication over implementation details. Additionally, hospital CNO Osterman has yet to respond to the letter. "It's too little, too late," Jacobs said.
Susan Koosh, vice president of marketing and community relations at Affinity, said otherwise. In an emailed statement to IndeOnline, Koosh said the hospital has provided adequate staff training. “We have thoughtfully prepared for this conversion for months, involving our clinicians in the process, providing significant training opportunities and adding extra staff to the schedule to help ensure a smooth transition,” Koosh said.
According to Koosh, Cerner EMR guidelines recommend 16 hours of training for each nurse, and close nearly 95 percent of nurses have met this requirement.
It's just not enough, Jacobs said. She explained that the meaningful use financial incentives for hospitals have a lot of groups hurrying to implement these big systems without laying the proper groundwork and without consulting the actual care providers during the process.