A Tale of Marriage, Medicine and Murder

What does 'Kardex' mean?

Find out what Kardex means. Kardex is explained by Margaret McMillion - author of PERSONAL BAGGAGE


Kardex is the trademark name for a card-filing system that allows quick reference to the particular needs of a patient. A flat, metal rack holds letter-sized cards for each patient in the unit and the cards are discarded when the patient leaves.

The cards are updated as needed and bear the room number, patient name, age, doctor’s name, diagnosis, allergies to medications, diet and any food allergies, precautions (like isolation or no weight bearing left leg), level of activity and whether able to perform basic self-care, any special problems like blind or deaf or right lower extremity amputee or mentally challenged, plan of care and any treatments or procedures (like vital signs every four hours, daily weight, up in chair three times daily, walk with help twice daily, oxygen at 2 liters by nasal prongs, IV type of fluid and rate, and telemetry monitor), and a schedule of lab, Xrays, and EKGs.

The Kardex is kept at the nurses’ station except during Report, the thirty minute time period between shifts when nursing assignments are made and information is passed on from nurses going off duty to those coming on.

In PERSONAL BAGGAGE on page 191, oncoming nurses use the Kardex to make assignments and plan the care for their patients.

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Chapter 3: Chapter Three
"...Penny delivered carbon copies of the new orders to the pharmacy department and transcribed the changes the doctors ordered onto the Medication Administration Record on which meds were checked off as they were given. She then copied the meds and the treatments onto the Kardex, from which Report would be presented to the next shift. ..."

Chapter 9: Chapter Nine
"...The day-shift nurse completed and signed off orders left from first shift, most of which had been done, but not signed off by an RN. In the medicine room Penny and Barb checked their patients’ MARs against the Kardexes, verified each other’s insulin dosages, and looked up anything they were not sure about. Then each nurse moved among her charges, answering questions and passing meds. By midnight, the patients and their family members were settled for the night. ..."

Chapter 13: Chapter Thirteen
"... it was beginning to make sense. She gathered her patients’ Kardexes and typed her code into a computer, intending to make sure that all the lab work and X-rays ordered for today had been entered before the lab techs came to Oncology to draw blood around 5 a.m. Eventually, Buck Dalton ..."

Chapter 15: Chapter Fifteen
"...In the nurses’ lounge, Barb, already dressed in scrubs, bowed her head over the Kardex while a glow from the overhead florescent fixture highlighted blond streaks in her hair. Concentrating on her notes, she did not look up to welcome Penny. “I’m keeping the three I had last night, and I took the patient they admitted today, okay? That gives me ..."

Chapter 19: Chapter Nineteen
"... for the entire winning department’s staff, and the Oncology nurses aimed to win. Barb was off tonight, and Penny flipped through the Kardex while Janet, one of the other night nurses, put on a scrub uniform. “Now Penny,” Janet said, “Barb told me that you would want to take care of ..."

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"PERSONAL BAGGAGE puts the reader front and center in the busy and stressful life of a hospital nurse. I..."

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