Survey: Nurses spend 25% of shift on indirect patient care

Time spent on paperwork, entering orders

A majority of nurses spend about one-quarter of a 12-hour shift on activities that do not require direct interaction with patients—an increase over years prior, according to a recent survey.

For the survey, Jackson Healthcare polled 420 nurses between July and November 2011. The findings also showed that about 78% of nurses reported spending at least two hours per shift on indirect patient care, up from 73% in 2009.

According to the survey, the most frequently listed indirect patient care activities were:

  • Documenting information in multiple locations; 
  • Completing logs, checklists, and collecting data; 
  • Traveling to equipment, supply, and utility rooms; and 
  • Entering and reviewing orders.

Although about 80% of respondents said they work for an organization that has implemented or is implementing electronic health record systems, the findings suggest that nurses still must manage many tasks and records on paper. 

To free nurses to spend more time on patient care, the study recommends simplified charting, increased ancillary support, and reduced nurse to patient ratios (Glenn, MedCity News, 1/31; Jackson Healthcare release, 1/30).


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