National Nurses United

Registered Nurse September 2009

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LET TER FROM THE COUNCIL OF PRESIDENTS i n t h i s i s s u e , we've devoted our entire feature well to a special primer we've created to educate registered nurses about the adv ent, consequences, and implications of health information technology (IT) in medicine and in our workplaces. The vast majority of us ha ve b y no w been exposed to these kinds of technologies and systems in one form or another. You may now be expected to chart on a rolling computer workstation outside patient rooms, or scan a barcode on a patient's wristband before administering medication. All of these are part of health IT and championed by hospital administrators and manufacturers as ways to reduce medical errors and improve efficiency— though those of us who actually have to use these systems find they often do just the opposite. But you should be aware that health IT extends way beyond just these programs and is rapidly evolving to encompass ever-growing areas of healthcare. In this primer, we take a step back to ask some larger questions about health IT. Why does it exist? Whom does it serve? Who is motivated to implement health IT? How does it change nursing practice? What are the ultimate goals of these systems? Do these goals align or conflict with our goals and values as registered nurses? These are questions we must all think through. Perhaps more than any other development in nursing, the introduction of technology to direct, speed up, control, and even replace our practice promises to transform our profession. Whether for good or bad largely depends on how actively we organize to influ- REGISTERED NURSE,™ (ISSN 1932-8966) The Journal of Patient Advocacy, September 2009 Volume 105/7 is published by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, 2000 Franklin Street, Oakland, CA 94612-2908. It provides news of organizational activities and reports on developments of concern to all registered nurses across the nation. It also carries general coverage and commentary on matters of nursing practice, community and public health, and healthcare policy. It is published monthly except for combined issues in January and February, and July and August. Periodicals postage paid at Oakland, California. POSTMASTER: send address changes to Registered Nurse, 2000 ™ Franklin Street, Oakland, CA 94612-2908. To send a media release or announcement, fax (510) 6630629. Registered Nurse™ is carried on the CNA/NNOC website at ence its use. We hope that you will take the time to read this excellent explanation of the basics of health IT, share what you've learned with your colleagues and friends, and discuss with your professional practice committee ways to ensure that technology helps, not harms, patients and your practice. In other news, CNA/NNOC held its most tremendous annual convention ever, hosting some 1,200 attendees in San Francisco this September and welcoming representatives from many of the nursing groups we plan to ally with in December to form National Nurses United, our new super union leading this country's RN movement. CNA/ NNOC RN delegates unanimously approved the unification to resounding cheers by all. The excitement at what we will accomplish when we join forces was truly electrifying. We all look forward to formalizing the organization at the founding convention in December so that we can turn to the nitty-gritty work of unionizing registered nurses, fighting for national RN-to-patient ratios and patient advocacy rights in every state, and winning true universal healthcare with one quality standard for all. These are big goals, and we need your help. As Martha Kuhl, RN and our CNA/NNOC treasurer said so succinctly from the floor of the convention, "I want to challenge each and every one of you to do more. I want you to help us organize nurses as part of NNU ." So let's get out there and do just that. Deborah Burger, RN | Geri Jenkins, RN Malinda Markowitz, RN | Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, RN CNA/NNOC Council of Presidents For permission to reprint articles, write to Editorial Office. To subscribe, send $40 ($45 foreign) to Subscription Department. California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee also produces California Nurse, which it will ™ continue to publish periodically. PLEASE CONTACT US WITH YOUR STORY IDEAS They can be about practice or management trends you've observed, or simply something new you've encountered in the profession. They can be about one nurse, unit, or hospital, or about the wider landscape of healthcare policy from an RN's perspective. They can be humorous, or a matter of life and death. If you're a writer and would like to contribute an article, please let us know. Our contact information is in the masthead. executive editor Rose Ann DeMoro editor Lucia Hwang graphic design Jonathan Wieder communications director Charles Idelson contributors Hedy Dumpel, RN, JD Donna Smith photography Jaclyn Higgs Lauren Reid

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