Inpatient medical notes often fail to record important details of patient history and findings on clinical examination. To overcome problems with content and legibility of notes we introduced preprinted notes for the admission of children to this hospital. The quality of the information recorded for 100 children whose admissions were clerked with the preprinted notes was compared with that recorded for 100 whose admissions were recorded with the traditional notes. All case notes were selected randomly and retrospectively from traditional notes written from April to October 1993 and from preprinted notes written from October 1993 to April 1994. The quality of information was assessed according to the presence or absence of 25 agreed core clinical details and the number of words per clerking. In admissions recorded with the preprinted notes the mean number of core clinical details present was significantly higher than those recorded with traditional notes (24.0 v 17.6, p < 0.00001). Admissions recorded with the preprinted notes were also significantly shorter (mean 144 words v 184 words, p < 0.0001). The authors conclude that information about children admitted to hospital is both more complete and more succinct when recorded using preprinted admission sheets.
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