drinks at the nurses station

  1. I have just recently joined the management team in the ER where I have been a staff nurse. Drinks in the nurses station has been an ongoing battle for as long as I have been a nurse. My manager simply comes out to the floor and procedes to throw any drinks in the trash, this action makes people mad and they resent her for it. I know that OSHA regulations state we cannot have food/drinks in area where contamination from blood borne pathogens and such may happen. My question is, is there a better way to get compliance from staff? I know as a busy ER staff nurse that it is hard to excuse yourself to the breakroom to get a drink and I always kept a covered cup with water hidden at the nurses station. So its hard for me as a new manager to expect compliance from my staff when I know how hard it is myself. Any suggestions?
  2. 37 Comments

  3. by   donmomofnine
    It's simply "no drinks in the work area". We have, in the past ten years, become a culture that cannot go anywhere without a drink. We drink in our car, at meetings, etc. Our kids carry sippy cups everywhere they go! I am guilty of this myself! We have water fountains on our unit and a secluded work area on one unit and a lounge area on the other unit, that are adjacent to the nursing station. Drinks need to stay in there and it is enforced verbally. No one will die of thirst. It's just a habit. My staff has plenty of time to obtain and consume their drinks, so I don't feel bad!
  4. by   jnette
    I tend to agree with this... it truly DOES strike me more as a habit than anything else. Almost as if cigarettes have been replaced with constant sipping/drinking.

    hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.... :stone
  5. by   llg
    I recently worked in a NICU in which nurses were not always able to leave their area to get a drink. We recognized that it's not healthy to work under radiant warmers, etc. without lots of fluid, so we came up with a compromise that Infection Control could live with.

    We designated a very specific space (actually a box that sits on a shelf of the nurses' station) that staff may use to keep drinks. We also have strict rules as to the type of cups that may be used. The cups must be completely closed when sitting in the drink box. Those types that have little levers that you move with your thumb to open them when you drink work best. If it is the type with a straw in it, the cap must be closed when the drink is set down. Staff may NOT set their drinks on other surfaces. If you thirsty ... pick up your drink from the box, take a swig, then put it back in the box.

    Because that unit has several smaller "nurses' stations" rather than one big one, this works well. People place their drinks in the box nearest to them and go to it throughout the shift as needed. This keeps the drinks in a confined space ... avoids messiness ... and was satisfactory to the Infection Control department, who were smart enough to realize that it was better to have a reasonable compromise that could actually be enforced than a strict policy that people would ignore whenever supervisors weren't around.

    It has worked well.

  6. by   mattsmom81
    As an ICU nurse, I found it difficult to get a break from the unit between having to answer phones, watch monitors, patient care.. We came up with a compromise: we could have cups with sealed lids/straws. My managers were ICU nurses and understood...thank God. Between all the rushing around it IS easy to dehydrate...and 14 hrs without a break is too long.

    those of you who GET breaks consider yourselves lucky.
    Last edit by mattsmom81 on Jan 13, '05
  7. by   UM Review RN
    I bring in a bottle of water with me because I found that I got less fatigue and less hunger while I was working if I stayed properly hydrated.

    I really don't see what's so bad about having a closed water bottle with a cap at the station. It's protected and it can't spill. I can take a few swigs without getting my stomach uncomfortably overloaded for 5 minutes, then dying of thirst for the rest of the shift.

    Furthermore, I find it hard to believe that the same germs that find their way around the housekeeper-cleaned nurse's station can't find an even happier haven in the employee-cleaned :uhoh21: break room.

    But I do love the idea of the "drink box," llg.<!-- / message -->
  8. by   llg
    Quote from Angie O'Plasty, RN

    But I do love the idea of the "drink box," llg.<!-- / message -->
    The drink box helps a lot by keeping the drinks in one place, avoiding the appearance of messiness, avoiding the possibility that one might get knocked over, etc. It also helps keep the drinks from being left sitting out from shift to shift. As one shift comes into work, they put their drinks in the box and the shift leaving has to take theirs out to make room.

    It's a simple, cheap thing ... but it provides a structured system that promotes good behavior. The staff complies with the policy because it is easy and it allows them to meet their hydration needs. Also, we frequently give "approved" cups as gifts for nurses' week and other special events.

  9. by   tntrn
    In our new, supposedly state of the art, unit, designed by people who don't have clue, the closest drinking fountain is by the elevators, outside the locked doors of the unit. We don't even have a wash station at our nurse's station.

    I find that the lights overhead dehydrate me beyond belief. When we had a nearby water source in our old unit, and before the police decided we couldn't have any kind of drinking cups at the NS, I had a bottle of water within reach enough that I could keep myself sane. As it is now, it's just impossible to stay adequate hydrated.

    Another perfect example of us being required to teach proper health habits without being allowed to practice them. Another example of something JCAHO or OSHA or whomever tosses out in order to keep their own jobs.
  10. by   donmomofnine
    I think it is encumbent upon management to follow the rules from the powers that be (no matter how stupid ) and yet provide for staff comfort and safety. At our facility, that is done. It is unfortunate that others work under less than comfortable conditions and I understand your frustration!:angryfire
  11. by   bluesky
    On my unit it sort of depends what shift you're on and who's on. On nights people basically take their capped drinks to the desks outside the room that we use to keep our flow sheets, etc. I'm not saying it's right.... it's just that everybody knows that the real barrier to spreading infection is handwashing so all these extra measures seem to hurt the nurses without significant appreciable gain...
  12. by   stevierae
    It just cracks me up to read that management has so much time on their hands that they have to walk around throwing out nurses' water bottles and soda cans. Yet, I know it's true--I've had it happen to me in the operating room--chastised for having a soda can out by the scrub sink; by middle management, of course. When asked why anesthesia was allowed to eat a burrito IN THE ROOM--during a case--met with only a stoney-faced non-reply. :stone

    All I can do is shake my head and say, nurses, TAKE THE BREAKS allotted you according to state and federal law--don't be martyrs. If you are allotted a 15 minute break every 4 hours--TAKE IT!!!!!! If you are allotted a 30 or 45 minute lunch, (depending on your shift)---take it!!!

    So much of this nonsense falls into the category of "sacred cows" anyway. Trust me; I have seen the same issues--over the past 30 years-- brought up, only to fall by the wayside and then be brought up again like clockwork, every 5 years or so. Middle management can, and does, do anything and everything to justify their existence--

    No one will take care of you except you.

    Water, soda and coffee at the nurses' station have little to do with nosocomial infections. Pay more attention to good handwashing and less attention to who is drinking what during the course of a workday.

    Gosh--I miss the good old '80s, where we would leave our full cups of coffee right outside our rooms--the surgeons would carry their full cups of coffee to the scrub sinks--the supervisor, when she came by your room to say hello, would have a cup of coffee or a can of soda in her hands--funny, we never had any nosocomial infections that I ever heard of....nor have I seen an operating room overrun by cockroaches, LOL!!

    If anything, I wish that middle management would spend less time policing our every move and more time monitoring good housekeeping practices. One time, I moved an O.R. table to the side--guess what was under it? A $5 bill. Now, do you REALLY think the last shift of housekeepers mopped or wet vac'd under that table? Or the shift before them? It scares me to imagine just how long that bill had been there...

    And don't even get me started about bits of bloody suture pushed into the corners of the rooms....
    Last edit by stevierae on Jan 15, '05
  13. by   Fluesy
    Stevierae is right. Start insisting on getting breaks because you are unable to have water at the NS and managment will suddenly find a compromise.
  14. by   donmomofnine
    ....and nothing ever gets spilled, right? I don't have to feel bad about no drinks at the desk because our staff get breaks and they can easily get a drink whenever they want one.