As the end of daylight savings approaches, I reminisce of the fond memories in the past. I used to look forward to this day as a guilt-free way to get an extra hour of sleep. I would wake up in the morning feeling refreshed, and then would look at the clock and find out that I still had the full day ahead of me. However, in the more recent years, I haven’t been able to enjoy this day as much as life around me doesn’t “respect” daylight savings. First, when I became a parent, I quickly found out that you are on your baby’s schedule. My baby has no interest in an extra hour of sleep and generally prefers to be awake. Second, I am an analyst that supports an EHR that is in use 24x7x365. For many of us, we just think of that extra hour of sleep. However, for healthcare workers it is a shortened version of Groundhog Day. 1 – 2 AM on Sunday, November 5th, will repeat twice.
When I think of the complexities of providing patient care during that time, I envision what conversations happen during that hour or during the shift change later that morning. How do you clearly communicate time based information when a period of time repeats?
Nurse Betty: “Yes, the patient is doing well. I took her vitals last at 1:15 AM and administered her medications.”
Nurse Joe: “Okay, was that the first 1:15 AM or the second 1:15 AM today?”
Or here is another scenario where the timestamps are confusing or misleading:
Nurse Joe: “So, I see here that the patient is still complaining of pain. It looks like you gave her meds at 1:05 AM and her pain scale says it is a 7 at 1:55 AM. What is the plan for controlling her pain?”
Nurse Betty: “Actually, the patient had pain around 1:55 AM (the first 1:55 AM of the day) and then we gave her medications 10 minutes later (at the second 1:05 AM). Let’s go check her pain level now to see if it has improved.”
If that isn’t confusing enough, then I think about the complexities in the database. How can an EHR maintain proper data integrity when the same hour repeats on the same day? How is time sensitive information displayed chronologically when the first 1:55 AM displays before the second 1:05 AM? In talking with other healthcare organizations, some have no choice and must have a paper down-time process during the repeated hour. This solution is hardly desired as clinical users are dependent on their EHRs. Even if there is a paper downtime and that paper gets scanned in, clinicians are expecting data at their fingertips and displaying nicely in reports. They may not think to look for a document that they may, or may not, know was scanned into the chart. However, there are some lucky ones that their EHR can handle a decompressed timeline for that 1-2 AM hour that repeats. Hopefully those employees, who have children, have children that enjoy to sleep in. And maybe they are looking forward to the end of daylight savings.
How does daylight savings affect your job or routine? Feel free to comment below, and as always contact us with any questions: