In a recently published study on nursing performance and interruption, it was suggested that interruptions make it difficult for nurses to properly administer medications.  Self-evident truth raises it’s head in the guise of science once again!  Who knew that interruptions make it hard to do our jobs?  Well, everyone.

Any practicing physician could have told you that; without a research budget.  Dictating?  Interrupted to sign a prescription.  Talking to a patient?  Interrupted to take a phone call.  Talking on the phone?  Interrupted by a patient with a question who walks past everyone to go to the doctor discussing a transfer.  Thinking about a complex, critically ill patient at the bedside?  Interrupted:  ‘sorry to bother you, but the patient in room 14 says the Morphine isn’t working! Can you order some Demerol?’  Looking at an EKG?  ‘Can Mr. Whitecastle have a work excuse?  He’s really bothering us for one.’  gone to the restroom?  Expect a phone call the minute you close the door.  Eating?  Forget it…five phone calls at a minimum while wolfing down food.

I know we all have hectic jobs, but it’s interesting to me that interruptions of nurses are newsworthy and interruptions of physicians are standard practice.   I mean, I can multitask with the best of them, but eventually interruptions leave our thoughts a tangled mess.  And that simply can’t be good for anyone, whether patient or provider.


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