Clinical documentation is a critical tool in supporting care provided to patients. Sound documentation provides a picture of clinical events that can be used to improve patient care. However, many other uses for clinical documentation are equally important. Such documentation informs clinical decision support tools, creates a legal record of patient care, assists in financial reimbursement of services, and serves as a repository for secondary data analysis. Conversely, poor documentation can impair patient safety and increase malpractice risk exposure by reflecting poor or inaccurate information that ultimately may guide patient care decisions.
Through an examination of anesthesia-related closed claims, a descriptive qualitative study emerged, which explored the antecedents and consequences of documentation quality in the claims reviewed. A secondary data analysis utilized a database generated by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists Foundation closed claim review team. Four major themes emerged from the analysis. Themes 1, 2, and 4 primarily describe how poor documentation quality can have negative consequences for clinicians. The third theme primarily describes how poor documentation quality that can negatively affect patient safety.