Purpose: In a previous study of interruptions to intensive care unit (ICU) nurses, we found that other personnel tend to regulate their interruptions based on nurses' tasks. However, nurses' tasks are not always immediately visible to an interrupter. This article evaluates a task-severity awareness tool (TAT) designed for nurses to inform others when they are performing high-severity tasks. When a nurse engages the tool within an ICU room, a "do not disturb please!" message is displayed outside the room. Methods: Task-severity awareness tool was installed in a cardiovascular ICU room at a Canadian hospital. Fifteen nurses assigned to the TAT room and 13 nurses assigned to 11 other rooms were observed, approximately 2 hours each, over a 3-week period. Data were collected in real time, using a tablet computer. Results: Interruption rate during high-severity tasks in the TAT room was significantly lower than in other rooms; interruptions with personal content were entirely mitigated during high-severity tasks. Furthermore, interruptions from nurses and medical doctors were also entirely mitigated during high-severity tasks but happened more frequently during non-high-severity tasks compared with rooms with no TAT. Conclusions: Task-severity awareness tool proved to be effective in mitigating unnecessary interruptions to critical tasks. Future research should assess its long-term effectiveness.
- Awareness displays
- Intensive care units
- Task severity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine