Patient care documentation in the secondary school setting: Unique challenges and needs

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Journal of Athletic Training


Context: Athletic trainers (ATs) recognize patient care documentation as an important part of clinical practice. However, ATs using 1 electronic medical record (EMR) platform reported low accountability and lack of time as barriers to documentation. Whether ATs using paper, other EMRs, or a combined paper-electronic system exhibit similar behaviors or experience similar challenges is unclear. Objective: To explore ATs' documentation behaviors and perceived challenges while using various systems to document patient care in the secondary school setting. Design: Qualitative study. Setting: Individual telephone interviews. Patients or Other Participants: Twenty ATs (12 women, 8 men; age=38 ± 14 years; clinical experience=15 ± 13 years; from National Athletic Trainers' Association Districts 2, 3, ±, 7, 8, 9, and 10) were recruited via purposeful and snowball-sampling techniques. Data Collection and Analysis: Two investigators conducted semistructured interviews, which were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Following the consensual qualitative research tradition, 3 researchers independently coded transcripts in 4 rounds using a codebook to confirm codes, themes, and data saturation. Multiple researchers, member checking, and peer reviewing were the methods used to triangulate data and enhance trustworthiness. Results: The secondary school setting was central to 3 themes. The ATs identified challenges to documentation, including lack of time due to high patient volume and multiple providers or locations where care was provided. Oftentimes, these challenges affected their documentation behaviors, including the process of and criteria for whether to document or not, content documented, and location and timing of documentation. To enhance patient care documentation, ATs described the need for more professional development, including resources or specific guidelines and viewing how documentation has been used to improve clinical practice. Conclusions: Challenges particular to the secondary school setting affected ATs' documentation behaviors, regardless of the system used to document care. Targeted professional development is needed to promote best practices in patient care documentation.

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