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J Nurs Care Qual. 2009 Jul-Sep;24(3):194-200; quiz 201-2. doi: 10.1097/01.NCQ.0000356907.95076.31.

Interruptions and geographic challenges to nurses' cognitive workload.

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  • 1Nursing Administration, Memorial Medical Center, and Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, Illinois 62781, USA.


The cognitive workload of nurses needs to be protected from interruptions as much as possible to prevent untoward patient outcomes. In this study, the type and frequency of work interruptions for nurses in medical-surgical units in a midwestern tertiary care medical center were identified. In addition, nurses' travel patterns were observed and recorded as they provided care. The intent was to identify methods for reducing interruptions and improving nurses' cognitive work efficiency.

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