This study focused on nurses, nursing managers and chief nursing officers (CNOs) across the U.S.  The purpose of the study was to identify and quantify the amount of indirect patient care within a 12-hour shift.

Bottom Line

The majority of nurses surveyed (73-75 percent) spend one quarter of their 12-hour shift on indirect patient care. Survey participants cited regulatory requirements, redundant paperwork and logistical challenges as the primary contributors of time spent away from the patient’s bedside.

The solutions to this problem, offered by participants, include increasing ancillary staff to handle indirect tasks, implementing hospital-wide technology to eliminate redundancies, and reducing the regulatory/defensive culture of healthcare.

Key Findings

  • 73 to 75 percent of survey participants say one quarter of their shift is spent on indirect patient care activities
  • The top five indirect patient care activities identified by participants included:
    • Documenting information in multiple locations
    • Completing logs, checklists and other unnecessary paperwork/data collecting
    • Regulatory documentation
    • Entering/reviewing orders
    • Walking to equipment/supply areas, utility rooms, etc.
  • CNOs rank lack of communication higher in its impact on bedside nurses, while bedside nurses rate it lower
  • CNOs are more concerned with coordination of patient care
  • Bedside nurses are more likely to perceive a staff shortage and feel overworked
  • Separating hospital nurse participants from the total number of nurse participants does not significantly affect the results


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