Hospitals and clinics are fast-paced environments with staff under pressure to deliver patient care.
For instance, mental and physical load often results in fatigue and an inability to complete charting in the allotted time frame.
And, more than 72% of nurses report staying after their shift to finish charting.
Richard Guy, country sales manager at Ergotron, said: “Walking miles each day during long shifts, nurses are often too busy to raise concerns with employers until consequences show up in the form of healthcare issues, or workers vote with their feet.
“A 2021 Royal College of Nursing survey reported that 60% of nursing staff working in NHS hospital settings were considering, or planning, to leave their jobs.
“And it’s a problem which needs addressing quickly to maintain business continuity, particularly in the peak pressure care times of the pandemic.”
The issue of designing better workspaces to deliver business efficiencies is an issue which fast needs addressing by healthcare leaders, particularly in the peak pressure care times we have seen of late
While working in a hospital or healthcare environment entitles workers to the same safe, comfortable working environment as any other, the equipment provided often falls short of meeting their needs, and they are often too busy to flag up issues until consequences show in the form of health problems.
Guy said: “The issue of designing better workspaces to deliver business efficiencies is an issue which fast needs addressing by healthcare leaders, particularly in the peak pressure care times we have seen of late.”
He adds: “Current working environments have forced workers into bad working habits, such as not taking breaks, and carrying out repetitive tasks with poor posture.
As a result, cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs) such as carpal tunnel syndrome, low back pain, and other musculo-skeletal disorders (MSDs) are rife.”
Over three quarters – 77% – of the RCN survey respondents admitted to working when they should have taken a sick day in the last year, with 67% saying their illness was stress related and 38% referencing their mental health.
Guy said: “Nurses need access to suitably-designed equipment and the right amount of rest to be able to cope effectively with job pressures and to manage their self care.
“Typically there aren’t usually enough mobile and wall-mounted workstations and they are too far from the patients, or too cumbersome, to move and position.
“They are also prone to technical issues, such as long Electronic Health Record (EHR) reboot times or issues with portable devices.
“Nurses now also have the added pressure of managing the battery life of vital technology devices.”
One of the key indicators of this highly-pressurised working environment are medication administration errors which are often due to extreme fatigue, with nurses who work more than 12 hours committing more errors.
More-comfortable workspaces with improved access to technology can boost workflow efficiencies, reduce staff injury rates, reduce inaccuracies in care, and reduce hospital stays
The Joint Commission found that inaccurate information entered into EHRs contributed to 120 adverse events, including treatments and medication ordered for the wrong patients.
And the EHR’s human-computer interface and ergonomics and usability issues were identified as primary causes for this.
As a result, the Joint Commission now recommends that workstations are located every 50 feet.
Guy said: “Providing ideal conditions that support caregiver well-being can do more than increase staff retention.
“More-comfortable workspaces with improved access to technology can boost workflow efficiencies, reduce staff injury rates, reduce inaccuracies in care, and reduce hospital stays.”
In fact, when The National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators, discovered that when nurses feel satisfied with their working environment, the quality of care increased 5-20%, infection rates decreased 87%, and injury falls decreased 17%.
Mobile and wall-mounted workstations
Mobile and wall-mounted workstations can resolve nurses’ key issues of walk time, unsuitable ergonomics, and proximity to patients.
An ergonomic workstation that is intuitive to use and adjustable for each caregiver supports comfortable and efficient documentation.
Guy explains: “Being truly ergonomic means positioning workstation desks to the right height for each worker, and the monitor at an ideal viewing height and distance.
“A sit-to-stand desk, where the desk height can be positioned to suit each worker, is an ideal solution to benefit busy clinicians.”
The NHS’s UK Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines report was recently released to advise breaking up long periods of sitting time with activity for just one to two minutes.
This official advice references ‘increasing evidence that sitting down too much can be a risk to your health’, referencing links to obesity, diabetes, and some types of cancer.
Guy said: “Having free-standing or wall-mounted terminals located throughout the unit can reduce nurses’ daily footprint, and free up time for face-to-face patient care.
Mobile workstations with integrated medication delivery can offer a total point-of-care solution, reducing time spent on documentation and distribution and medication inaccuracies
“Wall-mounted workstations are generally compact and best located in the patient room or in the unit hallway as touchdown points for briefly accessing the digital system.”
The Joint Commission recommends that workstations are located every 50 feet, reducing travel time for healthcare workers
Patient support at the point of care
Mobile medical carts give easy access to patient records at the point of care, which allows caregivers to focus on patients.
Clinical staff can log in to a patient’s medical record at the bedside via the mounted PC and display. This promotes better clinician-to-patient communication, as patients can view their own medical records and feel involved in their care journeys.
And working at a patient’s bedside dramatically reduces the stress of moving between stations.
“Mobile workstations with integrated medication delivery can offer a total point-of-care solution, further reducing time spent on documentation and distribution and reducing medication inaccuracies,” said Guy.
“Being fitted with an auto locking drawer system enables safe medication delivery and sample collection at the bedside.
“They can also be mounted with barcode scanners and printers to support bedside patient identification, further enhancing patient safety and quality of care.”
With IT managers able to monitor cart fleets in real time, critical device outages or EHR reboot times can be handled swiftly and remotely, reducing downtime and taking pressure off nurses.
But, before purchasing wall-mounted or mobile workstations, Guy advises organisations to conduct a worker assessment to investigate ergonomic needs of the staff.
Building a safe, comfortable, and productive working environment for nurses has an indisputable positive effect on the safety, health, and recovery time of patients
This should include sit-to-stand heights for workstations, ease of adjustment, storage, security, weight, and mobility.
Guy said: “Building a safe, comfortable, and productive working environment for nurses has an indisputable positive effect on the safety, health, and recovery time of patients.
“And providing mobile workstations and mobile carts that address concerns such as ergonomics, distance between patient rooms and the nursing station, worker collaboration with other caregivers, point-of-care access to patient health records, and effective medication administration can help any organisation improve the working environment and the patient experience.”