Document Detail

Barriers to critical thinking: workflow interruptions and task switching among nurses.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  21934427     Owner:  NLM     Status:  In-Data-Review    
Nurses are increasingly called upon to engage in critical thinking. However, current workflow inhibits this goal with frequent task switching and unpredictable demands. To assess workflow's cognitive impact, nurses were observed at 2 hospitals with different patient loads and acuity levels. Workflow on a medical/surgical and pediatric oncology unit was observed, recording tasks, tools, collaborators, and locations. Nineteen nurses were observed for a total of 85.2 hours. Tasks were short with a mean duration of 62.4 and 81.6 seconds on the 2 units. More than 50% of the recorded tasks were less than 30 seconds in length. An analysis of task sequence revealed few patterns and little pairwise repetition. Performance on specific tasks differed between the 2 units, but the character of the workflow was highly similar. The nonrepetitive flow and high amount of switching indicate nurses experience a heavy cognitive load with little uninterrupted time. This implies that nurses rarely have the conditions necessary for critical thinking.
Paul Cornell; Monica Riordan; Mary Townsend-Gervis; Robin Mobley
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  The Journal of nursing administration     Volume:  41     ISSN:  1539-0721     ISO Abbreviation:  J Nurs Adm     Publication Date:  2011 Oct 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2011-09-21     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  1263116     Medline TA:  J Nurs Adm     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  407-14     Citation Subset:  AIM; IM; N    
Author Affiliations: President (Dr Cornell), Healthcare Practice Transformation, Dallas, Texas; Postdoctoral Researcher (Dr Riordan), University of Memphis, Tennessee; CNO (Ms Townsend-Gervis), Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto, Mississippi; and Clinical Director, Inpatient Units (Ms Mobley), St Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee.
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