In this section
Nursing documentation is essential for good clinical communication. Appropriate documentation provides an accurate reflection of nursing assessments, changes in clinical state, care provided and pertinent patient information to support the multidisciplinary team to deliver great care. Documentation provides evidence of care and is an important professional and medico legal requirement of nursing practice.
To provide a structured and standardised approach to nursing documentation for inpatients. This will ensure consistent clinical communication processes across the RCH.
Nursing documentation is aligned with the ‘nursing process’ and reflects the principles of assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation. It is continuous and nursing documentation should reflect this.
Fig 1. Nursing Process
At the beginning of each shift, a ‘shift assessment’ is completed as outlined in the
Nursing Assessment Guideline. The information for this assessment is gathered from
handover, patient introductions, required documentation (safety checks and risk assessments, clinical observations) and an EMR review and is documented in relevant the ‘Flowsheets’.
Review of the EMR gives an overview of the patient. To complete an EMR review, enter the patients’ medical record and work through the key activities in order. These tabs can be customised to meet the specific needs of your patient group (EMR tip sheet link - coming soon). It is recommended that each ward standardises the layout of their activity bar based on their patient population.
The EMR review should include (*indicates essential);
Patient assessments are documented in the relevant flowsheets and must include the minimum ‘required documentation’. To ensure required documentation for each patient is complete, use the summary side bar link (EMR Req Doc tip sheet link -- coming soon).
With the information gathered from the start of shift assessment, the plan of care can be developed in collaboration with the patient and family/carers to ensure clear expectations of care.
The nursing hub is a shift planning tool and provides a timeline view of the plan of care including, ongoing assessments, diagnostic tests, appointments, scheduled medications, procedures and tasks. The orders will populate the hub and nurses can document directly from the hub into Flowsheets in real-time. Orders are visible by the multidisciplinary team.
Management of orders is crucial to the set up and useability of the hub. It must be ‘cleaned up’ before handover takes place - too many outstanding orders is a risk to patient safety.
For more information on how to place and manage orders, click on the following link:
Additional tasks can be added to the hub by nurses as reminders. All patient documentation can be entered into Flowsheets (observations, fluid balance, LDA assessment) throughout the shift. Clinical information that is not recorded within flowsheets and any changes to the plan of care is documented as a real time progress note.
This may include:
Progress note entries should not simply list tasks or events but provide information about what occurred, consider why and include details of the impact, outcome and plan for the patient and family.
All entries should be accurate and relevant to the individual patient - non-specific information such as ‘ongoing management’ is not useful.
Duplication should be avoided - statements about information recorded in other activities on the EMR are not useful, for example, ‘medications given as per MAR’.
Professional nursing language should be used for all entries - abbreviations should be used minimally and must be consistent with RCH standards, for example, ‘emotional support was provided to patient and family’ could be documented instead of ‘TLC was given’.
Real time notes should be signed off after the first entry and subsequent entries are entered as addendums.
Example of real time progress note entry:09:40 NURSING. Billie is describing increasing pain in left leg. FLACC 7/10. Paracetamol given, heat pack applied with some effect. Education given to Mum at the bedside on utilising heat pack in conjunction with regular analgesia. Continue pain score with observations. (Progress Note, sign at the end)
10:15 NURSING. Episode of urinary incontinence. Billie quite embarrassed. Urine bottle given. (Addendum)
14:30 NURSING. Routine bloods for IV therapy taken, lab called- high K+ (? Haemolysed). Medical staff notified, repeat bloods in 6/24. Encourage oral fluids and diet, if tolerated. IV can be removed. (Addendum)
The evidence table for this guideline can be viewed here.
Please remember to read the
The development of this nursing guideline was coordinated by Natasha Beattie, RN Cockatoo & Lauren Burdett, CNS Platypus and approved by the Nursing Clinical Effectiveness Committee. Updated March 2019.