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Nurses union targets EHRs, other tech in campaign

Bob Herman, Modern Healthcare, 5/30/14

National Nurses United has launched a media campaign criticizing the effects of what it called “digitalized care.” The mutlipronged campaign specifically criticizes electronic health records and bedside computers, saying they “too often fail” and lead to diagnoses and treatments based on “generic population trends” instead of individualized assessments.

The campaign also references a December report from HHS' Office of Inspector General, which said EHRs allow hospitals and physicians to cover up fraud or medical malpractice.The campaign includes radio ads, YouTube videos and social media. NNU also created a website,, to encourage patients to ask for more investment in nurses. The site features six radio ads as well as links to NNU blog posts and other materials on the issue of technology in healthcare.

“On this page, you'll learn more about what to look out for in the changing healthcare world today—and a reminder, that when it matters most, insist on a registered nurse. It's a registered nurse who puts the care in healthcare,” the site states.“The American healthcare system already lags behind other industrialized nations in a wide array of essential health barometers from infant mortality to life expectancy. These changing trends in healthcare threaten to make it worse,” NNU Co-President Jean Ross said in a statement. “Behind every statistic is a patient, and their family, who are exposed to unnecessary suffering and risk as a result of the focus on profits rather than what is best for individual patient need.”

Studies have come down on both sides of the tech debate. Last summer, an analysis in the Annals of Emergency Medicine said EHRs in emergency rooms potentially overwhelm physicians, leading to self-reported increases of wrong orders. However, other studies, such as one last year in BMJ Quality & Safety, said digitized records have the ability to help hospitals improve patient care, such as by reducing readmissions.

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