Health Information Management

Tip of the week: Consider alternatives when recharging battery-powered portable computers

HIM-HIPAA Insider, June 11, 2007

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Battery-powered, portable computers--some hospitals are now in the habit of calling them workstations on wheels (WOW)--help facilitate electronic patient charting. They represent the cutting edge of wireless technology, giving everyone in the building access to real-time updates on patient conditions. They also pose a dilemma for safety officers: WOWs need to be accessible to clinicians at a moment's notice. The computers also must charge at wall outlets when they're off duty.

Consider the following tips on how to deal with charging WOWs to comply with Joint Commission standards:

  • Recharge WOWs in a central spot away from corridors. Ask whether the information technology department has a central room with enough outlets available.
  • Recharge them in alcoves. Although there might not be an entire room free to charge WOWs, some hospitals have alcoves off of the hallways to stash computers while they recharge. However, keep in mind that charging equipment in an alcove could be a hazard. Because such equipment can get hot, be sure that the alcove is free of combustible material.
  • Keep WOWs with patients. If a workstation is parked in a patient's room--regardless of whether it's in use--it's not in the corridor blocking egress.

Editor's note: This tip was adapted from the June 2007 issue of Electronic Health Records Briefing. For more information, click here.

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