May is Nurse Appreciation Month and we thought it was a good time to remind everyone just what they have to go through to deliver excellent patient care and help keep hospitals running. We’re putting the focus on something that is unfortunately a daily backdrop for millions of nurses as they try to go about their daily duties and attend to the needs of those in their care.
Staff safety in healthcare
Of course, we’re talking about the dangerous part of their job — dealing with volatile patients (and sometimes volatile patient family members), threats, emotionally charged situations, physical assaults, and generally unpleasant confrontations. This is simply part of the job for too many nurses and their heroic efforts to meet their obligations in spite of it is one of the reasons why they fully deserve our support not just during Nurse Appreciation Month but all the time.
Still, what we commonly refer to as staff duress is something that the healthcare industry has long tried to minimize for obvious reasons. Not only is trying to provide help the right thing to do but creating a safer environment for nursing staff means better patient outcomes and smoother operations for the hospital. Everybody wins when staff duress is stopped before it starts.
Early attempts at addressing staff duress
So why hasn’t it been eliminated? The nature of the hospital environment and the stresses associated with it is one reason but another is the lack of an effective tool to deal with it. This has primarily been a function of the limitations of the technology available at the time. Early solutions came in the form of wired panic buttons or pull-chords based in patient rooms. Activating these measures literally set off loud alarms, alerting others to the need to provide assistance.
But the drawbacks to this approach to the problem were obvious from the start. Nurses in distress had to be in a room with a panic button or pull chord. Even if every room was equipped with one, not every potentially dangerous situation takes place in a patient’s room. And what if the nurse was on the wrong side of the room from the panic button with an aggressive patient in between?
But that’s not the end. Let’s say the nurse was able to sound the alarm – what then? Someone has to hear it and follow the sound until they get closer to the place the alarm is coming from, not the most efficient solution in a situation where every second counts, and just one or two of those seconds can be the difference between help arriving in time or not.
Today, thanks to Real Time Location Systems (RTLS) technology and IoT-powered infrastructures, hospitals and other healthcare facilities can offer much more effective staff duress solutions.
Modern staff duress solutions
We still rely on alarms to call for assistance, but now they’re the digital kind, activated easily, discreetly from anywhere. This is done through the use of a smart badge, which looks like any other badge typically worn by hospital personnel. This badge, however, is enabled with a sensor that broadcasts location information and is connected to a virtual network powered by Bluetooth® Low Energy (BLE) at all times.
A simple button on the badge, when pressed, sends a signal to the network which can be forwarded in several forms — text message, email, notification, etc. — or simply as a direct call for help. Instead of guessing the scene of the confrontation by listening to an alarm, responders can see the exact place the call for help comes from on a digital map of the facility, so no time is wasted during the response.
Since the alarm is triggered from a wearable badge, nurses are covered wherever they go in the area monitored by the wireless deployment. No need to look for a place to sound the alarm – the wearable badge goes with you everywhere.
The benefits of RTLS-based duress solutions for healthcare facilities start with an increased sense of safety for nurses and other staff but don’t end there.
- They are easy to set up and can often work based on existing infrastructure
- RTLS-based duress solutions require almost no onboarding for staff apart from an explanation of how to send an alert for help
- Monitoring is accurate to room-level, an important factor for large spaces like hospitals
- Nurses and other staff lose fewer days to injuries and the associated stress of a dangerous work environment
- Worker’s compensation claims are also lower as a result
- More savings come from avoiding the need to hire temporary staff to replace anyone on assault-related leave
Mitigating staff duress is mission-critical for hospitals
With nearly half of all nurses still reporting being physically assaulted on the job and still facing a risk of assault that is five times greater than the average worker, it’s clear that nursing remains a challenging profession. The physical and mental consequences of this result in lost productivity, lower staff morale, more sick leave taken, more worker’s compensation claims, and a general but understandable reduction in the motivation that nurses need to accomplish a very demanding job.
This leads to more turnover and increased recruitment and training costs for healthcare facilities. Investing in staff duress solutions can greatly reduce these costs while dramatically improving work conditions for nurses and other staff.
RTLS solutions provide a sense of security for nurses, no matter where they are in a facility. While no solution can completely prevent unfortunate confrontations and incidents, staff duress tools from Kontakt.io can provide a digital security blanket that covers nurses at all times and places. Help is always a press of a button away and that button is always with them, ready to call for help that will know exactly where to go immediately.
We’ll celebrate Nurse Appreciation Month until the end of May but let’s all remember the incredible job they do in exceptional circumstances at all times no matter what the calendar says!
If you’d like to learn more about how you can give nurses more reasons to celebrate in your facility, reach out to our sales team and set up a chat to learn more about staff duress solutions from Kontakt.io.