We frequently run without a clerk on our unit. Does anyone have a good system for answering phone calls while taking care of patients? Do any of your units use voicemail or answering machines in the unit?
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we have a clerk, but she's always got her headphones on, ignoring the phone. (so why is she still employed there? good question!) whoever happens to be sitting down within reach of a phone answers it, or anyone who is expecting a call. otherwise no one does.
One of the clerks will answer the phones, but will not pay any attention to the monitors, which is also one of their duties. Of course the RN still has full responsibility for looking at the monitors, but our clerks/techs serve as our "second eyes." That is very frustrating. The others are fantastic.
I remember one night I worked in the ICU we didn't have a clerk. Most of the time the phones wouldn't get answered unless someone was out at the nurses station. This made our on-call doc unhappy. We don't carry personal phones in our ICU, either...unlike PCU (I tell you tho, sometimes I just want to throw that phone against the wall...)
Perhaps employees should carry personal phones or voceras on the unit? At the start of the shift, other disciplines (lab, radiology, etc) are supposed to be faxed a copy of the name and phone # of the nurse taking care of the patients on the unit, that way they can just call us directly and it makes things easier.