August 29, 2011

Should nurses wear 'Do Not Disturb' signs?

Daily Briefing

    Following in the footsteps of U.S. providers, some U.K. hospitals have equipped their nurses with red vests that warn "Do Not Disturb" to try and curb errors during medication administration.

    About 10% of the nation's patient safety incidents are attributable to drug errors, The Telegraph notes. Meanwhile, many providers fear that nurses may become distracted by requests from patients or other staff during their drug rounds, leading to medication errors. The vests (see image) are an attempt to allow these nurses to focus on selecting and administering the correct medication.

    As a result, a handful of hospitals have equipped their nurses with the vests; one organization recently purchased 500 vests for about $8,200. A study carried out at one hospital found that nurses wearing the vests were still interrupted on 95% of their drug rounds, but the average number of interruptions fell from six to five.

    The practice has been criticized by some patient advocacy groups, with one spokesperson saying that the vests send "patients completely the wrong message" that nurses are not available to help them. However, the vests won near unanimous support from staff and patients during hospital trials.

    Some U.S. hospitals also have experimented with the model as well. For example, Kaiser Permanente staff designed "non-interruption wear," which included an inch-wide reflective sash that nurses don when dispensing medications. The gear is intended to signal that the nurse should be left alone until all medications are dispensed and the sash is removed (Beckford, 8/29, Telegraph).

    More from today's Daily Briefing
    1. Current ArticleShould nurses wear 'Do Not Disturb' signs?

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