Time motion analysis of nursing work in ICU, telemetry and medical-surgical units.

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Journal of nursing management


Humans; Intensive Care Units; Nurse's Role; Nursing Care; Patients' Rooms; Telemetry; Time and Motion Studies; United States


AIM: This study examined nurses' work, comparing nursing interventions and locations across three units in a United States hospital using Omaha System standardized terminology as the organizing framework.

BACKGROUND: The differences in nurses' acute-care work across unit types are not well understood. Prior investigators have used time-motion methodologies; few have compared differences across units, nor used standardized terminology.

METHODS: Nurse-observers recorded locations and interventions of nurses on three acute-care units using hand-held devices and web-based TimeCaT

RESULTS: Nurses changed locations approximately every 2 min, and averaged approximately one intervention/minute. Unit differences were found in both the interventions performed and the locations. Most interventions were case-management related, demonstrating the nurses' patient management/coordination role.

CONCLUSIONS: Unit differences in nursing interventions and location were found among three unit types. Omaha System terminology, as well as the observational method used, were found to be feasible and practical.

IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING MANAGEMENT: Nursing work varies by unit, yet managers have not been armed with empirical data with which to make more informed decisions about nurses' work priorities, clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction, staff satisfaction and cost. The results from this study will help them to do so.




Critical Care Medicine