Emergency department (ED) interruptions occur frequently. Recently, a hands-free communication device (HCD; Vocera) was added to the population of communications devices (a cellular telephone and a pager) in our ED. The research purpose was to determine whether this addition improved interruption times and our hypothesis was the device would decrease length of interruptions.Methods
This was a prospective cohort study of interruptions in an academic ED level 1 trauma center before and after introduction of an HCD. Interruptions were defined a priori and based on previous literature. We studied a convenience sampling of shifts. Length of interruption time was recorded. Three investigators collected interruption data, including nine different ED attendings.Results
Of 511 interruptions, there were no significant differences in types of interruptions pre- versus post-HCD. Before HCD use, we collected 40 hours of data with 65 interruptions (mean 1.6/hour). Post-HCD, 180 hours of data were collected with 446 interruptions (mean 2.5/hour). There was a significant difference in length of time of interruptions, with an average of 9 minutes pre-HCD versus 4 minutes post-HCD (P = 0.012 diff 4.9; 95% confidence interval 1.8–8.1). HCD calls were significantly shorter than non-HCD calls (1 vs 5 minutes; P < 0.001). Comparing data collectors for type of interruption during the same 4-hour shift resulted in κ = 0.73.Conclusions
The addition of Vocera HCD may improve interruptions by shortening call length.