Electronic Reminders Improve Procedure Documentation Compliance and Professional Fee Reimbursement

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Medicolegal, clinical, and reimbursement needs warrant complete and accurate documentation. We sought to identify and improve our compliance rate for the documentation of arterial catheterization in the perioperative setting.


We first reviewed 12 mo of electronic anesthesia records to establish a baseline compliance rate for arterial catheter documentation. Residents and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists were randomly assigned to a control group and experimental group. When surgical incision and anesthesia end were documented in the electronic record keeper, a reminder routine checked for an invasive arterial blood pressure tracing. If a case used an arterial catheter, but no procedure note was observed, the resident or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist assigned to the case was sent an automated alphanumeric pager and e-mail reminder. Providers in the control group received no pager or e-mail message. After 2 mo, all staff received the reminders.


A baseline compliance rate of 80% was observed (1963 of 2459 catheters documented). During the 2-mo study period, providers in the control group documented 152 of 202 (75%) arterial catheters, and the experimental group documented 177 of 201 (88%) arterial lines (P < 0.001). After all staff began receiving reminders, 309 of 314 arterial lines were documented in a subsequent 2 mo period (98%). Extrapolating this compliance rate to 12 mo of expected arterial catheter placement would result in an annual incremental $40,500 of professional fee reimbursement.


The complexity of the tertiary care process results in documentation deficiencies. Inexpensive automated reminders can drastically improve compliance without the need for complicated negative or positive feedback.

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