drinks at the nurses station

  1. 0
    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?

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  2. 37 Comments...

  3. 1
    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!
    Spidey's mom likes this.
  4. 1
    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
    Spidey's mom likes this.
  5. 4
    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.

    CrufflerJJ, Gold_SJ, nursingfolk, and 1 other like this.
  6. 1
    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
    mcknis likes this.
  7. 5
    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 -->
    Gold_SJ, nursingfolk, BBFRN, and 2 others like this.
  8. 1
    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.

    nursingfolk likes this.
  9. 3
    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.
    nursingfolk, Chaya, and lpnflorida like this.
  10. 0
    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. 0
    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...

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