Safety-Enhancing Technologies in Nursing


At the present day, there is a wide range of tasks connected with the need for improvement of the existing health care system. The Quality and Safety Education for nurses aims at the integration of quality and safety competencies into nursing education. There is an urgent need for the implementation of the progressively new approach into the education of nursing students whose level of competency has to be in tune with the times. Health care providers are the active actors who deal with technology-intensive methods of treatment that imply the usage of cellular technologies, transplantations, and many other innovations in this sphere.

Importance of Quality and Safety Education in Nursing

The current situation implies a wide diversity of challenges in nursing education, ranging from the elaboration of new teaching strategies up to the updating of the existing curriculum. Since the elaboration of the QSEN competencies, great progress has been achieved in the field of nursing education. The educational system proposed by QSEN is based on the principles of patient-centered health care, team working, evidence-based practice, and the quality improvement approach. The given system is an efficient instrument for teaching future nurses that allows providing the highest possible level of health care.

Safety-enhancing technologies in Nursing

One of the KSA statements that supports safety competency deals with the benefits and limitations of the safety-enhancing technologies in nursing. The importance of this competency for nursing can hardly be overestimated. One of the most important issues that disturb health care providers from all over the world is the safety of a patient. There is no need to say that a medical error may cause permanent consequences and even a fatal outcome. In recent years in medical practice, there have been implemented numerous safety-enhancing technologies aiming the minimization the possibility of error. The technology of automated identification, which is also known as barcode, is one of the most effective instruments in this field.

Barcode technology

This technology of obtaining information with the help of barcodes allows health care providers to verify the correctness of the prescription of a medical drug, its dosage, and its limitations. Barcodes are not only profitable technology. It can save the life of a patient.

Apart from the reducing possibility of a medical error, the barcode technology enables to increase the quickness of the identification of a patient, which is important for big medical centers. The basis of any interaction between the medical staff and a safety-enhancing technology is the process of identification. It may be the identification of a patient in the system, the search of the necessary medical drug, required documents, procedures, medical tests, etcetera. The effective solution to the problem of identification significantly increases the quickness and the efficiency of the work of the medical staff. In the majority of cases, the barcode technology performs the function of a quick and reliable searching tool.

Computer Provider Order Entry (CPOE)

Another important safety-enhancing technology is computerized provider order entry. The implementation of this system aims the reduction of medical errors, the prevention of avoidable testing, and general increase the efficiency of health care services.

One of the main reasons for the active use of contemporary information technologies in nursing is the possibility of cost-saving simultaneously with the improvement of the quality of the rendered services. Experience has shown that the implementation of such technology as computerized provider order entry into nursing allows increasing the operational efficiency of nursing personnel as well as the profitability of medical centers.

Moreover, due to the use of these technologies, there is no need for health care providers to fill up clinical records manually. Senior executives have an opportunity for optimization of different resources. With the help of CPOE technologies, health care providers obtain the opportunity for rapid access to all the necessary information from medical records.

The above-mentioned safety-enhanced technologies are of crucial importance for the safety of a patient. Human life is of the highest value and the use of such technologies as barcode, CPOE, medication pump, or automated alert helps to sustain it.

Safety-enhancing technologies in a clinical setting

The use of safety-enhanced technologies is widely covered in nursing literature. For instance, Bolger and Moss have investigated the possibilities of barcode technology for reducing errors in blood transfusion. In their research, Bolger and Moss (2015) came to the conclusion that “barcoding and use of handheld computers reduced potential for error and removed the need for two nurses to be involved in the checking procedure” (p.1).

In their research, the investigators have used the wristband with the barcode containing all the necessary information needed for the blood transfusion. The authors are convinced that the implementation of this technology is rather effective for patient safety. Along with that, barcoding is profitable from the point of view of cost savings. The usage of this system mitigates the possibility of the mistake stipulated by a human factor. Moreover, it enables to reduce the amount of nursing personnel involved in the process. Bolger and Moss (2015) state that “using barcode technology in the blood transfusion checking procedure will improve patient safety by reducing potential errors” (p.2).

In a similar study, Simon et al. investigate the possible outcomes from the implementation of computerized provider order entry in community hospitals.

Their investigation is based on the assumption that computerized provider order entry “can lead to improved safety, quality and efficiency of care, by preventing medication errors, avoiding redundant testing and promoting the use of evidence-based treatments, among other mechanisms” (Simon et al., 2013, p.2).

It should be noted that due to the complexness of this system implementation the researchers have faced certain difficulties. Most of them were connected with the feeling of anxiety of the medical staff and their fear of change.

The authors state that in their collaboration with the authorities of the participating community hospitals the emphasis has been made on patient safety rather than on the potential financial benefits.

In spite of the fact that the researchers admitted that “the implementation process was not without some painful consequences” (Simon et al., 2013, p.8), after the implementation of the system “no interviewee expressed a preference to return to the pre-CPOE era” (Simon et al., 2013, p.2).


This study is a perfect example of the fact that sometimes reality deceives expectations. Apart from all the benefits described by numerous researchers, the implementation of safety-enhancement technologies has its own difficulties. Most of them are connected with the financial aspects. In the existing clinical setting, safety enhancement technologies are not as widely spread as they wished to be.

Moreover, apart from financial issues, in the practical realization of one or another innovation there emerge many factors, which have not been taken into account before. For instance, in many clinics, the continuous noise produced by automatic alarm systems may cause the situation when a nurse turns down the volume.

At the same time, it must be admitted that any innovation is usually connected with difficulties. The implementation of safety-enhancing technologies is an inevitable process due to their wide range of opportunities for patient safety.


Bolger, G., & Moss, R. (2015). Reducing errors in blood transfusion with barcodes. Nursing Times, 111(15), 18-19. Web.

Simon, S., Kaohane, C., Amato, M., Coffey, M., Cadet, B., Zimlichman, E., & Bates, D. (2013). Lessons learned from the implementation of computerized provider order entry in 5 community hospitals: a qualitative study. Medical Informatics & Decision Making, 13(67), 1-10. Web.

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