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    Do you know of any ergonomic issues with medical e-charting? For example, awkward postures, interface issues, etc? Can you tell me about it? Thank you!



    There are a number of issues that need to be considered.   You need to consider the type of device being used.  WOW (workstations on wheels) have a number of concerns from an ergonomic perspective.  The position of input devices and the height range (particularly for sitting postures) can be problematic.  You need to consider input devices.  They should be considered from an infection control perspective.  Some of the fully wipeable keyboards are less than ideal as they do not have tactile or auditory feedback for keystroke depression.  There are lots that do, but you need to be aware of this.  Without the feedback, user tend to over press the keys and that can lead to MSD injury.  Hand-held devices can lead to excessive neck flexion and awkward wrist postures if being used to scan a pt. ID.

    Monitor size will be an issue.  IT folk tend to like the laptop or notebook computers that typically have smaller computer screens, making it harder for our aging population to see.  Be aware of glare.  Devices with the glass screen will pick up a lot of glare.

    There are work flow issues that should be addressed.  If the model is to have computers closer to the point of care, there are social interaction that will change.  Staff will not congregate in one central area and there may be push-back about that.

    The software interface is important to consider.  You likely have an aging workforce and programs that potentially will be used in a low light environment (night shift).

    Bottom line, don’t let "them" just plonk down a few extra computers and hope the project is a success.  Timely, accurate documentation is a critical piece to safe patient care.

    Hope this is helpful


    Susan Murphey

    Yes!  There are huge issues, both from an ergonomic and interface perspective.   Unfortunately, these expensive purchases are often made by the hospital information technology department with no input from either the frontline worker or an ergonomics specialist.  As a result, the equipment is neither user friendly or ergonomic. Failure to consider the workflow and ergonomic impact of point-of-care computer systems and their set ups often results in inconsistent clinical use and dissatisfaction among workers.  Workarounds necessitated by cumbersome (technological) processes affect productivity, and quality of work due to inconsistent methodologies.  From an ergonomic standpoint, awkward or hard-to-use equipment limits the worker’s ability to perform at their best.  Planning should start well in advance of the capital equipment purchase, and include input from IT, the end-user, and an ergonomics specialist. 

    I hope that provides some food for thought.


    Susan L. Murphey BS, CECD
    President, Essential Ergonomics
    Ph:  (206) 365-5253
    Email: [email protected]



    Susan L. Murphey BS, RDMS, RDCS, CECD



    Thanks for all the info. That is really helpful!



    Thanks for all the info. That is really helpful!

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