A Systematic Review of Nurses' Experiences With Unintended Consequences When Using the Electronic Health Record

Nurs Adm Q. Oct-Dec 2015;39(4):345-56. doi: 10.1097/NAQ.0000000000000119.


In response to unprecedented financial government incentives, electronic health record (EHR) adoption has tripled since 2009. While EHR benefits are emphasized, research demonstrates that adoption may result in unintended consequences that nurse administrators can anticipate and mitigate. Unintended consequences are defined as unplanned effects, whether positive or negative. Little is known about nursing perceptions and experience of unintended consequences arising from EHR implementation, and nursing studies are minimal in comparison with research on experience among their interprofessional colleagues. The purpose of this article is to present the state of the science on nurses' experiences with unintended consequences of EHRs derived from a systematic review that includes 4 original studies. Findings demonstrate that nurses experience changes to workflow, must continually adapt to meet patient's needs in the context of imperfect EHR systems, and have difficulty accessing the information they need to make patient care decisions. Even so, most state they would not revert to paper records if given the choice. Implications for nurse administrators include the need for continual engagement with nurses along the continuum of EHR design, as well as the need to encourage nurses to speak up and acknowledge workflow changes that threaten patient safety or do not support work efficiency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical*
  • Electronic Health Records / standards
  • Electronic Health Records / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Nursing Process*
  • United States