Connected care: reducing errors through automated vital signs data upload

Comput Inform Nurs. 2009 Sep-Oct;27(5):318-23. doi: 10.1097/NCN.0b013e3181b21d65.


Vital signs are a fundamental component of patient care. Omitted or inaccurately transcribed vital sign data could result in inappropriate, delayed, or missed treatment. A previous baseline study determined that error rates for vital signs captured on plain paper then entered into a paper chart or EMR were 10% and 4.4%, respectively. This study evaluated the impact of automated vital signs captured using a PDA with bar-code technology for patient identification. The PDA enabled the wireless capture and transmission of data directly from the vital sign monitor into the EMR. Researchers reviewed 1514 sets of vital signs collected electronically for accuracy and compared the error rate with data from the previous paper and EMR systems. Automated upload of vital signs directly into an EMR reduced the documentation error rate to less than 1%. This represented a significant reduction in vital sign documentation errors with the use of mobile technology when compared with traditional charting methods (P < .001). The automated vital sign data upload system helped promote a culture of patient safety by greatly reducing documentation error rates. Additional safety benefits may include improved timeliness to vital sign data and clinical work-flow processes.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Documentation / standards*
  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • Hospital Information Systems / organization & administration
  • Hospital Information Systems / standards*
  • Humans
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control*
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized / organization & administration
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized / standards*
  • Staff Development
  • Vital Signs*