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Journal Article > Study
The impact of interruptions on the duration of nursing interventions: a direct observation study in an academic emergency department.
Cole G, Stefanus D, Gardner H, Levy MJ, Klein EY. BMJ Qual Saf. 2016;25:457-465.
Interruptions are inevitable in the clinical environment, and they have been linked to an increased risk of diagnostic errors by radiologists and medication administration errors by nurses. However, the effects of interruptions are not predictable and many interruptions are essential for proper patient care. Recognizing this, commentators have called for research to analyze the causes and effects of interruptions, rather than attempting to categorically prevent interruptions. This study, conducted in an academic emergency department, contributes to our understanding of how interruptions influence patient care by examining the effect of interruptions on several specific nursing tasks. Interventions that were interrupted took longer than uninterrupted tasks, and interruptions were a significant contributor to overall nursing workload. Patients and families were the most frequent source of interruptions, demonstrating that simply implementing interventions to prevent interruptions could cause unintended consequences. The state of patient safety in the emergency department, including the role of interruptions, is discussed in a past AHRQ WebM&M perspective.
Journal Article > Review
Can you multitask? Evidence and limitations of task switching and multitasking in emergency medicine.
Skaugset LM, Farrell S, Carney M, et al. Ann Emerg Med. 2016;68:189-195.
Interruptions and task-switching are common contributors to complexity in emergency care. Exploring behaviors associated with multitasking in various disciplines, including human factors engineering, cognition science, and business, this review outlines a framework for enhancing understanding of multitasking, such as whether it can be performed successfully and types of actions that can be combined safely.
Journal Article > Study
Craker NC, Myers RA, Eid J, et al. J Nurs Adm. 2017;47:205-211.
Interruptions are a known patient safety hazard. This direct observation study demonstrated that intensive care unit nurses were interrupted about every 20 minutes. Interruptions by physicians were of longer duration and were more likely to result in the nurse moving to another activity. The authors conclude that further study is needed to determine the clinical significance of interruptions in the intensive care unit setting.