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I need help with a managment paper about answering call lights

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I am a senior nursing student and I am working on a managment paper. My topic is about the nurse call light system. I need some ideas on how to make sure the call lights get answered and that it is done in a timely manner. I would really appreciate it if someone aould give me some ideas about maybe what there hospital does to make sure the call light is answered. I have a ideas of my own, but I am not sure that they are good enough. Please help!!!!

Robin

OC_An Khe

Specializes in Critical Care,Recovery, ED. Has 40 years experience.

Actually there is only one way to insure that call lights are answered in a timely fashion and that is to have both adequate staffing and dedicated hard working employees.

allele, LPN

Has 10 years experience.

Actually there is only one way to insure that call lights are answered in a timely fashion and that is to have both adequate staffing and dedicated hard working employees.

I of course agree with this whole heartedly!! But if you're looking for a simple little idea to improve on call light answering, I've worked in some hospitals where they have the secretary answer the light from the desk. (You know, use the intercom into the room.) That way, if they need immediate attention the secretary gets someone in there right away, if they need some water or pain medication, the CNA or nurse goes into the room already knowing what they need, etc. Also, in the hospital I work at now, I precept new CNA's.....it's a new thing we're trying where the CNA's are precepted by an RN so they know exactly what's expected of them......and I ALWAYS tell them that call lights are PRIORITY! For CNA's, RN's and LPN's! I also make sure I'm a role model, if I don't see someone right away going for a light, I get it myself. Good luck with your project!

how about one CNA solely dedicated to call lights? I have noticed that sometimes when I am in a room doing a twenty minute dressing change or something, I assume that the CNA's will be covering my call lights, only to discover that they were doing a similar long task in a patients room...

If there was one CNA who only answered call lights and performed simple tasks (getting water, blankets, simple bedpans, etc.), and then called other CNA's or RN's (everyone would have to have phones) for more lengthy tasks, then there would nearly always be someone available to answer lights in a timely fashion, and it would free up the other CNA's to do AM care, transfers, etc.

whatever you do, don't support the beeper system. We tried it housewide and many nurses revolted. The patient would call the front desk and the clerk would beep BOTH the CNA and nurse. Sometimes you did not know what you were going to the room to do, sometimes both people showed up which was a waste of time, and sometimes the call did not get answered right away by either because each thought the other one would do it. I personally was assisting a central line insertion when I got paged to a room. I could not answer the page, because I was sterile at the time. I was reprimanded for not answering the page (the guy wanted ice). Meanwhile, 2 nurses and the CNA were sitting at the front desk. So I never wore it again. I kept "forgetting" to put it on. Finally, other nurses did the same and the whole EXPENSIVE project was dropped. Nothing beats the personal touch.

I am in LTC, but we have a quiet "beeper" system. If the primary caregiver does not answer in five minutes, it goes to a second person. After five minutes more, it goes to the supervisor. Bed alarms ring differently and are expected to be attended to immediately. The neat part is that we can print out reports on when each person's bell rang, if it was a regular, bathroom or alarm call, and how long it took till it was answered. We monitor and track this, counselling when needed. It really helps too, when sonny says that mama rang for two and a half hours to go to the bathroom. I can prove it wasn't so! And can also prove that mama rings twenty times an hour. :uhoh3: I really like this system!

another point, with respect to Allele's post, is that call lights are NOT ALWAYS a priority and dont need to be. If I am in the room of a high acuity patient who is gasping for air and whose Sat is 80%, do you think I am going to rush out to answer the call light of a patient who is alert and oriented x4, ambulatory, and has a history of calling to ask for extra sugar for their tea? Could this be the one in a million "true emergency" call for the tea person- yes it could. Am i sometimes willing to take that risk? yep. One of the great things nurses are trained to do is prioritize. Sometimes pt's call lights take a long itme to be answered becuase they nurse (correctly) prioritized their time to another patient. this is something that should be appreciated for the critical thinking judgement that it is, not harangued.

Thanks so much. Ya'll are all very helpful. The deal with this paper is it is a rural hospital setting so there is barely a budget to have a patient care tech at all not to mention one who only answers call lights. My main problem is that in this hospital, the unit secretary usually answers the call light, but sometimes the nurse isn't always around for her to relay the message to. So sh generally proceeds to take care of it to the effect of yelling out "303 B needs to go to the bathroom." No one really ever makes sure that this is really done or even knows if the nurse or tech is aware that it needs to be done. So my delimma was devising a system in which the nurse or tech is made aware that the patient has a need. After talking to the unit manager about the pagers, I decided that was not a good idea for anyone. The nurse doesn't need any more alarms sounding then there already are and management doesn't need to spend money on pagers that will eventually be "lost". I think I figured out a really simple plan for this I just hope my teacher agrees with me.

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

i think i figured out a really simple plan for this i just hope my teacher agrees with me.

so what's your plan?

I decided that the best way to make sure the nurse is aware of a patient's need that was not urgent is to put one of those metal spindles that you stab papers onto, on the med cart. (This hospital still doesn't have a pyxis, they use a med cart.) So each nurse has there own little cart and a space to chart. I think that if you put the spindle on the cart (which are all up against the nurses station) the secretary could stab the paper with the patients room number and what they need. The nurse could then look at it whenever they get back form what they are doing they can take care of it. I have two teachers for this class. One is really great, and the other lady is a little on the moody, unpredictable side. The good one actually gave me the idea and after looking into the options it seemed like the best solution for this hospital. I just hope the other teacher doesn't think it's too simple or somehting.

I work in LTC and it's sad that the most helpless cannot turn their call lights on and it is usually the more independent people who get to their call lights first because they beat everybody else.

another point, with respect to Allele's post, is that call lights are NOT ALWAYS a priority and dont need to be. If I am in the room of a high acuity patient who is gasping for air and whose Sat is 80%, do you think I am going to rush out to answer the call light of a patient who is alert and oriented x4, ambulatory, and has a history of calling to ask for extra sugar for their tea? Could this be the one in a million "true emergency" call for the tea person- yes it could. Am i sometimes willing to take that risk? yep. One of the great things nurses are trained to do is prioritize. Sometimes pt's call lights take a long itme to be answered becuase they nurse (correctly) prioritized their time to another patient. this is something that should be appreciated for the critical thinking judgement that it is, not harangued.
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