Frequency of nursing tasks in medical and surgical wards
Article first published online: 8 AUG 2013
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Journal of Nursing Management
Special Issue: This issue: Nursing work Issue editors: Frank Crossan and Kate Shacklock
Volume 21, Issue 6, pages 860–866, September 2013
How to Cite
2013) Journal of Nursing Management 21, 860–866. Frequency of nursing tasks in medical and surgical wards, , , , , , , , (
- Issue published online: 9 SEP 2013
- Article first published online: 8 AUG 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 3 APR 2013
- Chief Scientist Office. Grant Number: CZH/4/640
To explore the frequency of different nursing tasks in medical and surgical wards.
The time nurses spend on direct patient care is important for both patients and nurses. However, little is known about the time nurses spend on various nursing tasks.
A real-time, repeated measures design conducted amongst 67 (n = 39 medical, n = 28 surgical) UK hospital nurses. Between September 2011 and August 2012 participants completed an electronic diary version of a classification of nursing tasks (WOMBAT) during shifts.
A total of 961 real-time measures of nursing task were obtained. Direct patient care [median = 37.5%, interquartile range = 27.8], indirect care (median = 11.1%, interquartile range = 19.4) and medication (median = 11.1%, interquartile range = 18.8) were most commonly reported. Participants were interrupted in 62% of entries (interquartile range = 35), reported adequate time in 78% (interquartile range = 31) and adequate resources in 89% (interquartile range = 36). Ward-related tasks were significantly more frequent on medical wards than surgical wards but otherwise there were no significant differences.
Nurses spend the highest proportion of time in direct patient care and majority of this on core nursing activities. Interruptions to tasks are common. Nurses tend to report adequate time/resources. The frequency of nursing tasks is similar in medical and surgical wards.
Implications for nursing management
Nurse managers should review the level of interruptions to nurses' work and ensure appropriate levels of supervision.