When it comes to writing notes, conveying information efficiently is a means to summarize and clarify data. Producing immediately interpretable data helps the next caretaker have a snapshot of what the situation is.
A picture is worth a thousand words. When a written description is too lengthy or fails to accurately portray the information, draw a diagram. I have left some examples of some of the common diagrams I draw.
Physical exam notes translate well into diagrams when you want to track your progress. At what level do you hear crackles in the lungs today? How is that compared to yesterday?
When it comes to laboratory investigations, each hospital often has their own shorthand but the trident and pitchfork method to blood work is a pretty standard affair. Abnormal values are circled, with the last value written beside it with an up or down arrow used to show the trend. Even without pulling up a computer or going through the chart, a caregiver can see what has been ordered and what the trends have been.
Doctors often time use these diagrams in practice. The caveat is of course not every doctor or hospital draws them the same way. It is only as powerful a tool as the consensus or legibility of the tool.
So give it a try. May it speed up your workflow.
Next pearl: Impression…
Previous pearl: Describe a situation…