Workflow Interruptions Decrease Patient Safety, Job Satisfaction

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Hospitalists and patients alike may experience negative ramifications from workflow interruptions, according to an article in The Hospitalist written by Win Whitcomb, MD, CMO of Darien, Conn.-based Remedy Partners and co-founder and former president of the Society for Hospitalist Medicine.

Many hospitalists report daily interruptions as one of the largest areas of frustrations, according to the report. Interruptions force people to quickly switch between tasks, which leads to a higher chance of errors since switching tasks requires brain processes that are not instantaneous.

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Consequently, patient care may be compromised when hospitalists are subject to "task-switching," according to the report.

Although Dr. Whitcomb says implementing "no interruption zones" may not be feasible in the fast-paced hospital setting, he suggests five practices that could decrease the amount of interruptions.

•    Unit-based staffing to centralize patients
•    Multidisciplinary rounding
•    Have nurses send pages in batches
•    Structure nighttime rounds for non-urgent matters
•    Create urgency levels of paging so a physician knows whether an immediate response is necessary or not.

More Articles on Patient Safety:

Off-Label Drug Use Poses Safety Risks
Report: 3% of Medication Reconciliation Error Patients Harmed
Study: Engaging Patients May Not Have Safety Benefits

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