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ED workers spend 12 minutes per hour on Facebook

May 22, 2013

    Juliette Mullin, Daily Briefing

    Researchers at the University of Florida have released an interesting new study analyzing the time that hospital ED workers spend on Facebook during their shifts—and the trends are surprising.

    For the study, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, the research team examined 15 days of anonymous network use records from 68 workstations at an academic medical center's ED. (Workstations in break areas were not included in the study.) The researchers then compared the data to patient volumes and severity in the ED.

    Over the 15-day period, ED staff spent 4349 minutes (or 72.3 hours) on Facebook at the 68 terminals, visiting the Facebook website 9369 times. On average, ED staffers spent 12 minutes per hour.

    The researchers expected to find significant social media use among ED staffers. However, they did not except to find that such use increased when the ED became busier.

    Workers spent 19.8 minutes per hour on Facebook when on the night shift, but limited their use to 4.3 minutes per hour when on the day shift, when the ED was less busy.

    The researchers note that cognitive breaks can help workers handle increased patient volumes and acuity. "It is possible that [Facebook] time-outs lead to improved worker functioning, but of more concern is that it may also represent a compromise of patient care." They recommend more research into the trend.

    Of note: The study did not include time spent on Facebook using mobile devices.

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