Traditional paper documentation of cardiopulmonary arrest (CPA) events is often inaccurate and incomplete. Electronic documentation supports appropriate process improvements and optimal patient care and contributes to greater accuracy in national databases from which national benchmarks are derived. The aim of this quality improvement initiative was to compare the timeliness and accuracy of paper-based versus electronic documentation of live CPA events.
Nurses on four medical–surgical pilot units received training on the use of a handheld electronic device with a documentation app (Full Code Pro) to document live CPA events. The data were downloaded into an Excel file and compared for completeness and accuracy with the data downloaded from the LIFEPAK 15 defibrillator using CODE-STAT 10.0 software. Electronic documentation and traditional paper documentation of events from units where the intervention wasn't implemented (control units) were also compared with the CODE-STAT data.
There were 26 CPA events: six on the pilot units were documented using the electronic app, 12 on the pilot units were documented using the paper-based method (the latter were excluded from analysis), and eight on the control units were documented using the existing paper forms. Data accuracy was significantly greater in the electronic group compared with the paper-based group for recorded rhythm (100% versus 13%, P = 0.01) and end-tidal carbon dioxide (67% versus 0%, P = 0.02). The electronic method significantly outperformed the paper-based method in legibility (100% versus 13%, P < 0.01). Staff reported increased satisfaction with the electronic documentation method.
Using electronic handheld devices to document live resuscitation events demonstrated the inaccuracies of paper-based documentation, supporting the findings of previous studies. Electronic documentation was superior to paper in overall documentation quality and allowed providers to identify and quickly document the initial rhythm of the event. A larger study using electronic documentation to capture more ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia arrests would show a greater accuracy of timing, which would have large positive effects on overall resuscitation quality.