Survey Identifies Fives Greatest Time-Wasters for Nurses

The Healthcare Management Council, which offers advice on enhancing operational performance for healthcare organizations, asked nurses in an online survey to reveal which activities were the biggest time-wasters. Here are the results, ranked by the percentage of nurses who selected each category.

1. Charts and documentation (55 percent).
Documentation creates inefficient processes, particularly when working with electronic documentation on computers. This includes having to enter data twice into separate incompatible systems or working with hybrid paper and electronic systems. "Anything that requires duplication and looking at different sources of information is a waste of time," said Michelle Gray-Bernhardt, an HMC knowledge manager. Other issues involved dealing with missing or incomplete charts or requirements to enter unnecessary information.

2. Locating supplies and equipment (19 percent).
Searching for supplies or equipment and then bringing them back means nurses have less time to spend with patients, Ms. Gray-Bernhardt said. She recommends improving utilization patterns to ensure the availability of supplies.

3. Patient flow (15 percent). Waiting for and sometimes admitting medical-surgical patients was seen as a major time-waster. This category included waiting for exam or treatment rooms to open, locating patients who have been mistakenly assigned to other units, and locating a bed for a patient when the unit has no available space.

4. Physician interaction (15 percent).
Nurses often have to wait to hear back from physicians to receive medication orders, post-round information, discharge orders and other necessary information. Often they lack electronic communications that could speed up this process.

5. Redundant communication with families (11 percent). If there is no clear family spokesperson when family members call about updates on a patient's condition or discharge information, several different nurses have to pass along the same information.

Learn more about the Healthcare Management Council.

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