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Ten Ways to Increase Nurses' Time at the Bedside

Rebecca Hendren, for HealthLeaders Media, March 16, 2010

Keep supplies in close reach: Nurses spend hours hunting and gathering all the supplies they need during a shift, and often walk miles in the process, retrieving medications and then trekking from linen closet to storage room. Reducing the time nurses spend hunting and gathering for supplies is a vital step in increasing time spent in patient care. Keep patient rooms stocked with the items needed during a shift, such as commonly-used supplies (e.g., pre-filled syringes for flushing IV lines) and extra linens. Locating supply closets and nurses stations in central locations also decreases the miles nurses walk each day.

Outsource discharge follow-up calls: Phone calls to recently-discharged patients increase patient satisfaction and reduce the risk of readmission, but they don't have to be done by nurses on the unit. This is an ideal job for older nurses looking to decrease physically-taxing direct patient care.

Seek physician input: Physician involvement can be critical to the success of any time-saving project. Ask physicians about system improvements they can be involved with.

Ask nurses: The easiest way to know what will save nurses time is to ask them. Stop nurses in the hallway and ask about inefficiencies and they will name umpteen things that drive everyone nuts. Saving five minutes here and there all add up. Removing obstacles that hinder nurses' not only saves time, it also saves frustration.


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Rebecca Hendren is a senior managing editor at HCPro, Inc. in Danvers, MA. She edits www.StrategiesForNurseManagers.com and manages The Leaders' Lounge blog for nurse managers. Email her at rhendren@hcpro.com.

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2 comments on "Ten Ways to Increase Nurses' Time at the Bedside"


nurseS (8/14/2013 at 7:05 PM)
I agree this is not for the nursing world today. I speak from using these exact "ten ways to increase nurses time at the bedside" for the last 3 years now....It is not possible. I work in a trauma hospital and get 6-7 pts per RN, and you are pulled in too many directions from the start and cannot possibly assess pt's, pass tons of meds, listen and address pt concerns & questions, and chart on every pts IV/PCA/Epidurals, etc and the rest of the bazillion required charting items and to round hourly in addition. Also, overview to the charge RN, labs to check off for draw, now doing our own IV's, EKG's, and working with less all the time. Yet we are expected to keep doing all and more without getting lunches or potty breaks. I enjoy helping others back to health and educating them, but those who enforce these outrageous expectations onto the RN without regard to his/her health should really keep there nose out of the bedside RN's business and let another bedside nurse come up with the best strategy to be at the bedside. Leave it to the true expert, not the one who no longer is....

Eva June Velez (2/25/2011 at 3:15 PM)
I agree to these strategies but did you consider the number of patients the nurses are loaded with? How many patients the nurses could have for these strategies be effective? In just first visit out of 7 patients during rounding report, calls start asking for pain meds, patient hurry to discharge pending from morning shift, patient ask assistance to bathroom etc, family wants to speak with the nurse, doctors awaiting in telephone line, giving orders to be carried out, doctors waiting in the nurses station wants to speak with the nurse, awaiting blood transfusion, unfinished admission process and many more variables in the patient environment....how could a rounding report plus assessment be feasible to be done by incoming and outgoing nurse to balance her time accommodating all her patient's needs and demands, time for doctor concerns, carrying out orders, documentation, and unexpected other responsibilities? i appreciate your response..