ABSTRACT

Interruptions are pervasive in medical settings. The objective of this study was to develop recommendations for dealing with them. We focused on interruptions experienced by the nursing staff at a large Midwestern hospital. We observed workflow in two nursing stations with different layouts at various times of day, and conducted focus groups with nursing personnel. We identified several sources of the interruptions including: other people; auditory messages; shortages of equipment; software flaws; inconvenient location of supplies; layout of the nursing stations; work processes; and staffing levels. Our recommendations were aimed at limiting interruptions, reducing distracting effects, improving the working conditions of medical practitioners, and reducing the possibility of error.