Using a Patient Communication Poster to Triage Care Needs Between the Registered Nurse and Nursing Assistant: A Randomized Controlled Trial

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Abstract

A patient communication poster detailing how to request nursing assistants (NAs) directly for activities within their role responsibilities could increase appropriate direct requests and decrease calls to registered nurses (RNs). This practice has resulted in fewer calls to RNs for care requests that can be met by NAs.

Background

Previous research found the vast majority of call light requests from patients to their assigned registered nurse (RN) are for tasks that could be addressed by the nursing assistant (NA). No studies were found that addressed patient education to triage calls to the RN and NA.

Purpose

Determine if use of a patient communication poster (PCP) would help patients triage call requests to the RN and NA.

Methods

A convenience sample of 54 medical patients was studied in a randomized controlled trial. Patient calls to the RN in units receiving the PCP intervention were compared to calls from patients in the usual care group. Patient perception was also measured. Data were analyzed using descriptive and nonparametric group comparison tests.

Findings

Number of calls was significantly lower for the intervention group (p=0.013) compared to the usual care group in the “other NA task” call type. Relative satisfaction in the PCP intervention group was significantly higher for did not request anything than for the usual care group (p=0.014). For patients who requested assistance, the PCP intervention group perceived more intances of receiving care than the usual care group; however, the difference was not statistically significant.

Limitations and Implications

Use of a small convenience sample was a limitation of this study. Triaging patient calls prompts more efficient, effective use of RN time with implications for practice change.

Conclusion

A PCP was useful in ensuring patient calls were triaged appropriately to the RN and NA.

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