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Assessing EHR Data for Use in Clinical Improvement and Research


Assessing EHR Data for Use in Clinical Improvement and Research

Assessing EHR Data for Use in Clinical Improvement and Research

Data from electronic health records (EHRs) are becoming accessible for use in clinical improvement projects and nursing research. But the data quality may not meet clinicians’ and researchers’ needs. EHR data, which are primarily collected to document clinical care, invariably contain errors and omissions. This article introduces nurses to the secondary analysis of EHR data, first outlining the steps in data acquisition and then describing a theory-based process for evaluating data quality and cleaning the data. This process involves methodically examining the data using six data quality dimensions—completenesscorrectnessconcordanceplausibilitycurrency, and relevance—and helps the clinician or researcher to determine whether data for each variable are fit for use. Two case studies offer examples of problems that can arise and their solutions.


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Use a standard 10 to 12 point (10 to 12 characters per inch) typeface. Smaller or compressed type and papers with small margins or single-spacing are hard to read. It is better to let your essay run over the recommended number of pages than to try to compress it into fewer pages.

Likewise, large type, large margins, large indentations, triple-spacing, increased leading (space between lines), increased kerning (space between letters), and any other such attempts at “padding” to increase the length of a paper are unacceptable, wasteful of trees, and will not fool your professor.

The paper must be neatly formatted, double-spaced with a one-inch margin on the top, bottom, and sides of each page. When submitting hard copy, be sure to use white paper and print out using dark ink. If it is hard to read your essay, it will also be hard to follow your argument.

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