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How Can You Save Time on the Medical-Surgical Floor?

3 Ways You Can Reclaim Time on the Medical-Surgical Floor

You face mounting demands on the Medical-Surgical floor. And you work hard to make every minute count. But frequent alarms, patient calls, charting, and communication can interrupt your workflow — on average 46.3 times per shift.1 This means prioritizing can be a constant challenge.

Too many interruptions can elevate stress and affect quality of care. Alarm fatigue can lead to adverse events or outcomes.2 Computer delays and locating equipment can waste time and energy. Interruptions can put patient safety at risk.

But that’s not where the story ends. Clinicians are using innovative solutions that help them save time and improve outcomes. From smarter alarm management to communication tools, clinicians are turning minutes wasted into minutes saved.

In this blog post, we’ll explore how time gets lost on the Medical-Surgical floor, and how you can reclaim it. Let’s see how you can save time and improve care.

Issue #1: Too Many Alarms Can Obscure Significant Ones

In a single shift, clinicians may hear up to 1,000 alarms.3 Many of those, however, may be false positives or clinically insignificant. One report by the Joint Commission estimated that 85 to 99 percent of alarms did not require an intervention.2

Frequent false alarms can contribute to clinician fatigue and stress. This may elevate the risk of missing high-priority alarms — including code blue events or cardiac arrest.4 It may also affect patient satisfaction: For every ten percent of nurses reporting job dissatisfaction at one hospital, the share of patients who would recommend the hospital decreased by two percent.5

Related: Smarter alarms can help you reduce false alarms and save time. See how.

Issue #2: Charting Inefficiencies Can Create Delays 

For every hour spent on patient care per shift, nurses can spend just as much time on paperwork.6 They can spend more than one-third of each shift on documentation.7

Nurses can lose up to two minutes waiting to log on each time they need to access the computer. This can add up to 48 minutes of waiting in one shift.8  

Related: Wireless monitoring can help you stay connected to your patient conditions, wherever you are. Learn more. 

Issue #3: Communication Gaps Can Waste Precious Time

Nurses can walk up to five miles per day responding to alarms, charting, answering calls, and triaging with other clinicians.7 Walking to and from the nurses’ station to answer the phone can occupy up to 58 minutes of each day.6

In one study, nurses reported communication gaps as the second-most common cause of operational failures — after equipment problems.9 Such failures can interrupt workflow and consume up to ten percent of each shift.10

Related: Wireless communication can help reduce call response times and improve care. Learn more.

Here are three ways you can save time and improve care.

  • Smarter alarms can help you reduce interruptions and fatigue, while improving response times and accuracy. Early Warning Scores can help you respond to significant alarms quickly and improve outcomes — leading to a 43 percent reduction in patient mortality, in one case.11†
  • Wireless monitoring devices can help you stay connected to patient conditions as you move around the floor. Integrating remote patient data with an electronic record system can also help improve the quality of chart documentation, compared with manual record-keeping.12
  •  Clinical decision support systems integrate monitoring data to help you prioritize patient needs. Benefits include reduced call response times, patient falls, and length of stay.13,14

Related: Explore how innovative workflows and technologies can save you time. Visit the resource site.

We offer simplified solutions to help you keep your patients safe. Patient and clinician centric innovations such as Vital Sync™ remote continuous monitoring, smart alarm management, and workflow services are designed to help you reclaim time on the medical-surgical floor.

1. Weigl M, Müller A, Zupanc A. Hospital doctors’ workflow interruptions and activities: an observation study. BMJ Qual Saf. 2011;20:491–497. doi:10.1136/bmjqs.2010.043281.

2. Patient Safety Advisory Group. Medical device alarm safety in hospitals. The Joint Commission Sentinel Event Alert. Published Apr. 8, 2013. Accessed May 1, 2019.

3. Ruskin KJ, Hueske-Kraus D. Alarm fatigue: impacts on patient safety. Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 2015;28(6):685–690. doi: 10.1097/ACO.0000000000000260.
4. Pelter M, Drew B. Harm from alarm fatigue. Patient Safety Network. Published Dec. 2015. Accessed May 1, 2019.
5. McHugh MD, Kutney-Lee A, Cimiotti JP. Nurses’ widespread job dissatisfaction, burnout, and frustration with health benefits signal problems for patient care. Health Aff. 2011;30(2):202–210. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2010.0100.
6. Turisco F, Rhoads J. Equipped for Efficiency: Improving Nursing Care Through Technology. California Health Care Foundation Website. Published Dec. 2008. Accessed May 1, 2019.
7. Hendrich A, Chow MP, Skierczynski BA, et al. A 36-hospital time and motion study: how do medical-surgical nurses spend their time? Perm J. 2008;12(3):25–34.
8.  Parker C, Baldwin K. Mobile device improves documentation workflow and nurse satisfaction. CARING Newsletter. Published Jun. 22, 2008. Accessed May 2, 2019.
9. Stevens KR, Ferrer RL. Real-time reporting of small operational failures in nursing care. Nursing Research and Practice. 2016;8416158:1–7. doi:10.1155/2016/8416158.
10. Tucker A, Heisler W, Janisse L. Organizational Factors that Contribute to Operational Failures in Hospitals. Harvard Business School Website. Published Sep. 4, 2013. Accessed May 1, 2019.
11. Bellomo R, Ackerman M, Bailey M, et al. A controlled trial of electronic automated advisory vital signs monitoring in general hospital wards. Crit Care Med. 2012;40(8):2349–2361. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0b013e318255d9a0.
12. Heidarizadeh K, Rassouli M, Manoochehri H. Effect of electronic report writing on the quality of nursing report recording. Electron Physician. 2017;9(10):5439–5445. doi:10.19082/5439.
13. Agboola S, Jethwani K, Khateeb K. Heart failure remote monitoring: evidence from the retrospective evaluation of a real-world remote monitoring program. J Med Internet Res. 2015;17(4):e101. doi:10.2196/jmir.4417.
14. Hale TM, Jethwani K, Kandola MS, Saldana F, Kvedar JC. A remote medication monitoring system for chronic heart failure patients to reduce readmissions: a two-arm randomized pilot study. J Med Internet Res. 2016;18(4):e91. doi:10.2196/jmir.5256.

† Among patients transferred to a higher acuity ward following rapid response team treatment.

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About the Author

Lindsay Alexander is a Content Marketing Strategist focused on content and strategy development for the Medical-Surgical (General Care Floor), Procedural Sedation, and EMS areas of care for Medtronic’s Respiratory and Monitoring Solutions portfolio.

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