Thursday, December 11, 2008

Change of Shift is up...

And yours truly is listed for the first time!

If you've never been to Change of Shift, head on over to for the whole story. Change of Shift is predominantly nurse bloggers blogging about nursing or nursing-related topics. It's a must read for any nurse. Check it out!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

'Tis the season

Ah, the snow is coming down in our neck of the woods and the malls and stores all have extended hours for shopping. Tomorrow is a big day on the internet called Cyber Monday.

Cyber Monday is the Monday after Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) where lots of people go online and start their holiday shopping instead of being in the stores on Black Friday.

If you're trapped at work and want to shop, it sounds like a great deal. However, be certain to check with your IS staff if you're not sure (or if your boss hasn't reminded you) of your organization's acceptable internet use policy.

Most companies have Acceptable Use policies (or AUPs) for a number of reasons. One, it sets up a code of conduct for how you will use the internet at work. Rule of thumb: normally, if your internet use is for business use, or can be justified for business use, it's normally okay. Another item to look for: many businesses allow employees to use the internet for personal reasons while on their breaks or lunch time.

Two, in many cases, when you sign an Acceptable Use agreement, you state that you will follow the guidelines or you can be disciplined or even terminated. A few examples of the quick and easy route to termination I've seen as an IT staffer: overuse of internet for non-business purposes and not doing your job, using the internet to run a side business during business hours and transmitting or receiving pornography.

Three, implementing acceptable use policies also helps alleviate the load on the network, so that you can do your normal business without having slowdowns due to everyone shopping or watching streaming video all day. Some companies use proxy servers and firewall software to enforce these rules on the network. The software can be simple or sophisticated, and can even tell your network staff how much time you're using and where you're going on the internet. If your organization doesn't want you going somewhere on the internet, the IT staff (or the firewall or proxy software) often blocks the offending site or sites.

So, what does this mean to you? Follow your organization's policy and use the internet as your organization deems fit. If your company lets you surf the internet on your lunch hour, have a blast shopping away!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

More on online drug references

Reuters recently had an article about Wikipedia and the accuracy of information there.

Medscape Drug Reference is another, mostly (about 80+ per cent of the time) correct drug reference that is freely available.

Other useful drug references on the web:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Online Healthcare IT expo

Check out the HIMSS Virtual Conference and Expo tomorrow, November 19 and Thursday, November 20. Starting with the keynote at 0900 CST, you'll be able to access conference sessions online on various healthcare IT topics.

A full list of the conference topics is available in the Show Guide (PDF).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Some items of note

I've been busy, so hence, I've neglected my postings to this blog. There are so many exciting things popping up in my mailbox from the different listservs and publications, that it is an enormous task to read them every day.

Here are a few items of interest I've found recently.

Do you use a PDA on your job or at home? Do you access e-mail in public places or read documents on it? You may be interested in the latest gadget--privacy screens for PDAs. These have been very common for desktop and laptop PCs in healthcare for a long time, but for many years, the prices were very prohibitive.

As with anything, the costs have come down and you can find a privacy screen for your PDA for under $20 at vendors such as You name the device and they have accessories for it. They also have a large selection of accessories for smartphones and Blackberries, too.

This article from HealthData Management in April 2008 discusses the winners of the 2008 Nursing Information Technology Innovation Award. The situations described are prime examples of how IT is integrating into the nursing workflow to make a difference.

Medscape, as I've mentioned before, has a lot of neat things for nurses, but also has a section for NPs. This article describes some of the applications for nursing education for NPs, as more and more master's level programs go online.

In addition, since more folks are going online to learn via distance education on the internet, some colleges are turning to tools to make cheating more difficult. This article from the Chronicle of Higher Education discusses one tech option.

Finally, since I'm seeing a lot of articles about hospitals and technical redesigns to aid nurses in their work, I also found this recent article on how architects are now designing hospitals with the aid of doctors, nurses, and neuroscientists. On the same note, it's a little more dated, but this 2005 article discusses designing nurses' stations. This is important since physical plant restrictions can also play a part in implementing technology solutions.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Handy things to know about e-mail

I've seen some interesting articles in the last couple of days about sending e-mails at different times of day and night and when not to send.

Here are a few articles of interest about handling e-mail. The best advice: handle your e-mail very carefully! What may be good manners in real life doesn't always translate well into e-mail.

Experts reveal e-mail nightmares, safety tips (from
This CNN article has some great cautionary tales about using e-mail carefully.

Drunk, dangerous and at the keyboard (from
While this article doesn't discuss e-mailing from work, it does make you realize that sometimes you just need to step away from the keyboard.

Monday, September 29, 2008


The big I is becoming more and more important for patients and healthcare staff. If you want to see a glimpse of the enormity of the discussions on this topic, search Google or your favorite search engine. The results for a recent search I did netted about 300,000 or so articles, from vendors, industry organizations and even ANSI sponsored groups, such as HITSP.

Interoperability of computer systems trickles down from the systems level, into the daily lives of a variety of personnel, including nurses. Most recently, the DOD (US Department of Defense) and VA (Veterans Administration) are working on this very issue to provide seamless healthcare to active military personnel and veterans.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A good iPhone read

If you love your iPhone, but wonder about what they left out, check out this article, Ten Features Still Missing from iPhone at

InformIT is a great information technology resource that delves into security, certification and other business issues related to IT.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Need help? Just talk

That's what many LTC facilities are now doing to manage charting, paging and care plan use. Vocollect Healthcare has a product called AccuNurse which helps staff document and do their jobs more efficiently through voice technology.

If you are an LTC nurse and want to sell this product, they are looking for you, too. (See this job listing.)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Technology in the news

Hospitals and Health Networks magazine has an article about the implementation of IT on nursing in a rural hospital setting. Another article, also in this same magazine discusses wireless technology.

Since I carry a PalmPilot wherever I go, I'd be happy if there were more publicly accessible wireless access points in hospitals. It's very handy especially if your cell phone doesn't work well in the hospital.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

One thing leads to another...

My post on a PDA question in one area led to this guest post on, which is a nursing site geared to new nurses.

See more on the story about technology and new nurses at

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Informatics in the news

While it's not the most earth-shattering article out there, my local paper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which addresses business healthcare issues on Wednesdays, has an article about the growing field of informatics in healthcare.

And in the better late than never section...I forgot to mention this recent article which talks about AHLTA and VistA (Armed forces and VA computer systems) from Heathcare IT News.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

New nurses and technology

As a nurse, technology does markedly affect my job. I am surrounded by it in a plethora of PCs, pumps, and other assorted devices. If you thought you knew everything there is to know about technology, you will learn even more once you hit the floor of your local hospital. We are surrounded by devices in every aspect of our daily lives, so hospitals and other healthcare facilities are no different.

What do you need to know about the technology, if you are new to nursing? First, be comfortable with the skills you already have. They can readily be used in new applications. Second, be willing to invest time in learning those new skills. Thankfully, many of the technology folks who create those applications you use to check labs, fill out forms and complete your charting realize that simple applications are usually better. Third, learn what the standards are at your workplace. You can often find resources in your nursing education department, on your local workplace intranet or with your friendly technology support staff. Use every resource available to you.

Finally, if you want to carry your resources around with you, and your facility permits it, get your favorite device and put various resources on it. I couldn't have made it through nursing school or my first year as a nurse without my Palm TX and my medication, lab and medical dictionary references on it. Knowledge is power, so don’t be afraid. Go out and learn!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

SINI starts tomorrow

SINI (aka Summer Institute in Nursing Informatics) starts tomorrow at the University of Maryland. The group will have coveritlive sessions during the conference.

If you're even remotely interested in informatics, be sure to check it out.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Never assume...

That was my lesson this week. I work with a lot of very experienced nurses who know a lot of things. I found out this week that many of them do not know how to use many of the office automation tools we have access to on our computers.

Case in point, one nurse needed help dealing with attachments in Outlook. Another needed information on how to open attached PDFs and fill them out. Still another needed help troubleshooting what was going wrong with her e-mail.

We have an assigned support person (who, incidentally has another job besides user support) but she's on vacation. As a result, yours truly got to be the support tech on the floor. I don't mind it at all, but it does show how technology skills are being thought of as natural requirements, especially for new nurses, most of whom, have worked with technology during their entire nursing school experience. Happily, our hospital system is recognizing the need for additional computer training for both nurses and ancillary staff and is making it available to those who wish to utilize it.

Here are a few articles of note on this subject.

A new definition for nursing informatics (from AdvanceWEB)
This editorial describes the field of nursing informatics.

This article, The impact of information technology on nursing practice and knowledge by Melanie Anne Cox was featured in a book called Consumer-Centered Computer-Supported Healthcare for Healthy People.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Telehealth and the VA

In this age of rising fuel and healthcare costs, telehealth is becoming more important.

The VA (Department of Veterans Affairs) health system is using telehealth both for convenience and greater access to care for US military veterans. The Office of Care Coordination discusses the various telehealth initiatives of the VA.

Here is some feedback about the VA's telehealth model:

Tech in the news

Here are a couple of interesting articles in the news of interest to nurses.

Microsoft is targeting nurses for versions of its online applications (from 7/8/08)

On another older note, Microsoft talks about the role of nurses and technology.
Nurses want technology that works the way they do

Saturday, April 5, 2008

What is that orange pill I found?

When in doubt, it makes sense to check out the monographs, if available, in your drug guides. Print ones are not often updated as quickly as online ones, so for a recent question on my floor, we headed to the internet.

First, we checked and searched through their medication lists based on what a couple other nurses thought the mystery pill was. ePocrates will give you a picture of the pill if you know which drug you are looking for in a list. You cannot search for a drug by color or shape of the pill or capsule.

For testing purposes to see if there was a database to search by color, we used LiveSearch and found this site: on which allows you to plug in pill shape and color. Once complete, you will get a list (also with photos, if available, and markings) which can help you identify your pill. This helped us identify the mystery pill as a generic Xanax 1mg tab. The markings also helped us hone in on the exact pill, even if the photo was not available.

Another web site of interest we encountered today was It is another web site from the PDR desktop folks with information specifically directed to consumers. In particular, there is an interesting section on drug trials and recently FDA approved medications.

Alas, the old adage to check it out really is true, and the internet makes the resolutions even faster.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Unbound Medicine on iPhone

Unbound Medicine does have titles available for iPhone on their web site now, including Nursing Central.

Decisions, all I have to do is get an iPhone.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

iPhone link

I found this link while surfing around the other day:


Dr. Salvatore Volpe has lots of information regarding various products and services available for iPhone. The latest news, which was really interesting to me, is that ePocrates is working on a version for iPhone. You can access ePocrates online version on your iPhone right now. You can see what it looks like at the ePocrates site.

And yes, Dr. Volpe, if they port Unbound Medicine and Skyscape apps to iPhone, I'm gonna ask Santa for one.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The latest news on IT for nurses

I've been busy myself learning the ins and outs of the VistA computer system for nurses. Here are some of the latest stories I've found about IT and nurses.

More nurses embrace IT (from

CIN Computers, Informatics and Nursing - abstracts and links to articles available free at

Nurses prefer contact to computers (from

An oldie but goodie that warrants a second look:
The potential use of blogs in nursing education (also from CIN)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Articles of note

It was a busy end of the year for me, both personally and professionally. My resolution this year is to work further on this blog and point the way to some of the better articles out there.

As I mentioned before, I find a lot of good things in my mailbox via listservs. Here's one from the nrsing-l listserv

Infection control and mobile devices
Time savers or harbors for infection? This article brings up some pretty valid points about infection control and IT collaboration.