The researchers shared that one nurse who was observed illustrated cognitive shifts or interweaving among five patients 74 times in eight hours.
"Think about what that does to a nurse's ability to think," says Sitterding.
Sitterding described a study where researchers observed medication administration. The researchers found that interruptions occur in 53% of all observations. Of those medication administrations that included an interruption, 39% ended up with a clinical error.
We have to understand the current nature of nursing work to understand how to improve patient safety. The way care is carried out now is incredibly complex and requires nurses to perform many tasks at the same time and nurses must be constantly aware of unexpected situations that may arise.
This leads nurses to perform cognitive task management to handle competing priorities:
"Cognitive task management is happening with every nurse on every unit in every hospital," says Sitterding.