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New tool could shred nurses’ paperwork

The paperwork nurses have to complete could be dramatically cut, following the trial of a new streamlined patient risk assessment tool.

University of Queensland researchers said it will improve management in Australia’s busy hospital systems and leave more time for patient care.

The tool – called RAIsoft Acute Care System and licensed by the University of Queensland’s commercialisation company UniQuest – was trialled at Brisbane’s QEII Jubilee Hospital.

The tool reduces the critical information needed for a core assessment down to 60 items, which the research team said takes a nurse 15 minutes to complete.

UQ Professor Len Gray said he had visited hospitals around the world and had never found a satisfactory solution to the problem – something he said was long overdue.

“Typically, there is a bloated and inefficient patchwork of scales and risk assessments taken from different sources, with local nursing staff filling in the gaps,” Gray said.

“Nurses are usually required to complete between eight and 27 forms when assessing a patient, collecting between 150 and 500 data items – a process which can take up to two hours.

“Because hospital workers are busy, the paperwork is often left to the end of the day when there is a risk of it not being completed.”

Gray said the system generated assessment scores and triggered referrals to allied health services as needed.

“It makes clinical handover between shifts efficient and effective, reduces reporting requirements and provides timely information for targeted patient care,” he said.

“Longer term, it engages the whole health care team in continuous improvement of patient care, reduces readmissions and improves collaboration within and between hospitals.”

System development started in New Zealand and was extended to research and development in Australia and North America.

The research team said that now the trial is complete the tool is now set to be rolled out further afield.

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