3 Ways Technology Can Help Nurses Spend More Time at Patients' Bedside

CHICAGO, May 29, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety recently released 3 ways technology can help nurses spend more time at patients' bedsides:

  1. Use Monitoring Technology As A Patient Safety Net
  2. Use Monitoring Technology That Incorporates Multiple Parameters
  3. Ensure that Technology is "Nurse-Friendly"

The current hospital-patient care environment does not allow nurses to spend their time where they are needed most, at the patients' bedside. A time and motion study of 767 medical-surgical nurses in 36 hospitals found that only 7.2% of their time (31 minutes during a typical 10 hour shift) is spent with the patient performing tasks, such as assessing the patient and reading vital signs.

Commenting on "#1: Use Monitoring Technology As A Patient Safety Net", Lillee Gelinas, RN, MSN, FAAN (vice-president and chief nursing officer, VHA Inc.) says, "Too much of nurses' time is spent in activities other than in actual patient care. The majority of nurses' time is spent in 'hunting' and 'gathering' - types of activities, like finding the right supplies. In addition, they are documenting, coordinating care, and administering medications. Not enough time is actually being spent at the patient's bedside, assessing, teaching and 'caring'."

As Julianna Morath, RN, MS (chief quality & safety officer, Vanderbilt University Medical Center) explains "Human vigilance is required but insufficient, continuous electronic monitoring needs to be there to support and back up nurses, and allow them to visit a patient while monitors are continuously assessing other patients for various physiological parameters (such as, oxygenation with pulse oximeter or adequacy of ventilation with capnography)."

The need for "#2: Use Monitoring Technology That Incorporates Multiple Parameters" stems from the fact that the more monitors that are used, the more alarms that can go off in a patient's room, and this barrage of alarms can get in the way of delivering better care and ensuring patient safety. According to ECRI Institute, an independent, nonprofit organization that researches the best approaches to improving the safety, quality, and cost-effectiveness of patient care, alarm hazards are the number-one health technology hazard for 2013.

False alarms can get in the way of nurses and their patients. Linda Groah, RN, MSN, CNOR, CNAA, FAAN (CEO, executive director, Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN)) explains, "It is the nurse who is usually the first to see the signs and symptoms of a patient's deteriorating condition. However, false alarms interfere with nurses' tasks and waste valuable nurses' time. It is therefore critical that alarms be actionable."

Studies have shown that the number of alarms that sound can be drastically reduced.
Moreover, as Ms. Gelinas says, "Monitoring systems that incorporate multiple parameters (such as, etCO2, SpO2, respiratory rate, and pulse rate) into a single integrated system is going to be better than managing each four of those physiological indicators separately. Better for the nurse, and better for the patient"

For a complete discussion of 3 ways technology can help nurses spend more time at patients' bedside, please see Advance for Nurses at: http://community.advanceweb.com/blogs/nurses3/archive/2013/05/22/3-ways-technology-can-help-nurses-spend-more-time-at-patients-bedside.aspx


The Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety (PPAHS) is an advocacy group devoted to improving patient health and safety. PPAHS supporters include physicians, patients, individuals, and organizations.

PPAHS recently released a concise checklist that reminds caregivers of the essential steps needed to be taken to initiate Patient-Controlled Analgesia (PCA) with a patient and to continue to assess that patient's use of PCA. For more information and to download the PCA safety checklist, please visit http://www.ppahs.org

SOURCE Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety