Common cell phone calls during a shift

Most people love their cell phones. In fact, many people can’t put them down.

In the old days of nursing though, nurses didn’t have a technological leash to keep them connected throughout their entire shift. Thanks to cell phones, a nurse can be elbows deep in a bed sore and get interrupted.

However, that’s a bit cynical, though not untrue. Cell phones do make it easier for nurses to enhance communication among the disparate parts of the medical team, and that makes them useful.

If only they were not such a distraction! Here are a few of the typical calls nurses receive on their cell phone during any given shift.

Patients calling for help

Some facilities give patients their nurse’s cell phone number and some do not. There are pros and cons to this.

On the plus side, a patient can immediately inform a nurse of a medical problem or let them know if they need toileted before getting out of bed and risking a fall. The huge con is that it can be abused.

Patients can call for water, fluffed pillows, and merely because they are bored. This can definitely take away from a nurse’s ability to get their job done.

Family calling for information

This use of the cell phone certainly happens and it is disruptive at times. All family members deserve to know about their loved one’s condition provided they are the family contact.

However, they can call at really bad times. Of course, they don’t know they have called at a bad time, but most family members expect some answers.

The problem with the cell phone is that you can’t put these calls on hold. You can keep the call at the desk if you, for instance, finish inserting that foley.

When it rings, you are almost compelled to answer, and that takes away from the care of other patients. Family members may want to chat, as well, and this is another reason why having the call forwarded to another place is preferable to a cell phone.

Doctors returning calls

Perhaps the only legitimate reason for carrying a cell phone is for receiving doctor call backs. Usually, nurses are waiting impatiently for the call and the docs are waiting impatiently to get off the phone.

It can still be an interruption, but it is one that is necessary and can not be put off until you are done with a procedure. You need your orders now.

In the end, cell phones and nurses are a double edged sword. Yes, they improve communication and continuity of care, but they also interrupt treatment and that can be dangerous.

A nurse divided tends to be not as effective as a nurse who can focus on one or two tasks. Unfortunately, nursing is about multitasking to an extreme, and cell phones only make this situation worse.


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