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J Nurs Adm. 2013 May;43(5):302-7. doi: 10.1097/NNA.0b013e31828eebe1.

Expanding potential of radiofrequency nurse call systems to measure nursing time in patient rooms.

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Decatur Memorial Hospital, Illinois, Chicago 62526, USA.



The objective of this study was to determine the utility and feasibility of using data from a nurse call system equipped with radiofrequency identification data (RFID) to measure nursing time spent in patient rooms.


Increasing the amount of time nurses spend with hospitalized patients has become a focus after several studies demonstrating that nurses spend most of their time in nondirect care activities rather than delivering patient care. Measurement of nursing time spent in direct care often involves labor-intensive time and motion studies, making frequent or continuous monitoring impractical.


Mixed methods were used for this descriptive study. We used 30 days of data from an RFID nurse call system collected on 1 unit in a community hospital to examine nurses time spent in patient rooms. Descriptive statistics were applied to calculate this percentage by role and shift. Data technologists were surveyed to assess how practical the access of data would be in a hospital setting for use in monitoring nursing time spent in patient rooms.


The system captured 7393 staff hours. Of that time, 7% did not reflect actual patient care time, so these were eliminated from further analysis. The remaining 6880 hours represented 91% of expected worked time. RNs and nursing assistants spent 33% to 36% of their time in patient rooms, presumably providing direct care.


Radiofrequency identification data technology was found to provide feasible and accurate means for capturing and evaluating nursing time spent in patient rooms. Depending on the outcomes per unit, leaders should work with staff to maximize patient care time.

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