Tracking RN's...why not Docs too???

  1. Posted on Thu, May. 30, 2002

    Hospital to track nurses
    By Putsata Reang
    Mercury News

    A new high-tech tracking system at Washington Hospital that allows supervisors to track the whereabouts of their nurses is expected to help hospitals run more efficiently and patients get a nurse's attention faster.

    However, some hospital employees say Big Brother may be watching a bit too closely.

    ``It's a violation of my privacy and a waste of resources,'' said Ken Krider, a nurse in the intensive care unit who opposes the new program. ``They'll see if I'm 30 seconds late or take a 31-minute break or go to the bathroom three times. I don't want that.''

    Washington Hospital spokesman Christopher Brown said the Fremont hospital has not received any complaints about the tracking system from employees, adding it is intended to help patients. Administrators have yet to determine who must wear the badges and other requirements of the program, such as whether staff members would have to carry the badges at all times. However, he said, ``In order for a system like this to work, everyone has to take part.''

    Washington Hospital will launch the real-time tracking system when it officially opens its newly remodeled sixth floor medical surgery unit next month. It has already been used in a pilot program on the third floor and there are plans to expand the system to the entire hospital.

    The program, created by Michigan-based Versus Technology, would require nurses to wear infrared identification badges so that their supervisors -- and their patients -- can find them easily. Sensors about the size of a cup coaster placed on the ceiling will detect the nurse's badge and relay the information via infrared signals to a computer, which will record the location in real-time.

    Versus Technology first tried the program at a Philadelphia pediatric hospital seven years ago. As many as 400 hospitals across the country -- including several in California -- now use the system for various purposes including tracking down a patient file and locating a person, said Stephanie Bertschy, Versus' director of marketing.

    In addition to tracking people instantly, the system would create a record of how long a patient waited for a nurse to arrive after pushing a call button, how many times the nurse was in the room, and how long he or she stayed. Once the nurse enters the patient's room, the call button automatically turns off.

    ``I could see where my nurses are if a doctor is looking for a specific nurse,'' said Alice Santos, a 23-year veteran of Washington Hospital and director of the medical and surgical nursing program on the third floor, which launched the pilot. ``Otherwise, you're running up and down the hall trying to find the nurse.''

    Santos said the system also cuts back on the noise in hospitals as fewer people are paged over intercoms.

    ``We're not using it as a tool to monitor how long their breaks are,'' Santos said. ``We're not using it in a punitive method.''

    However, privacy groups worry the system could be abused.

    ``The kind of environment they're working under now is one of total surveillance,'' said Sarah Andrews, research director at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a public-interest research agency in Washington, D.C. ``You can be watched every time you go to the bathroom. It puts you in an uncomfortable situation.''

    Andrews said there are no federal laws prohibiting this type of surveillance by an employer; however, individuals may have some grounds for legal action if their privacy is violated.

    Krider said he's taken an informal poll of other staff members who share his same worries about privacy rights.

    ``For the nurses understaffed and overworked, this just adds a new unit of paranoia,'' Krider said.

    Contact Putsata Reang at or (510) 790-7312

    See both pro's and con's of this system...only seems fair for Doc's , Respiratory Therapy etc to be tracked too!IMO
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  3. by   KP RN
    Thank God I left hospital nursing for home health!!
    Outrageous!! and pathetic....
    How many more nurses will be driven away??
    I can think of a few better projects to spend extra money on, and tracking devices ain't one of them!
  4. by   oramar
    The docs would not put up with this for one second and if the nurses do they are fools. It is a professional insult.
  5. by   live4today
    For heaven's sake! What better way for those admins to spend their hard earn college educated degrees than snooping on the few staff members they have left. They sound like a bunch of poopers on drugs...the brain altering kind. :chuckle
  6. by   Cascadians
    We had a call light system in the hospital where we pushed a button at the pt room door and it registered a colored light outside the door so everybody glancing down the hall could see where we were. One could also see exactly where we were because our cart was parked outside the door ...

    None of this cost anything extra
  7. by   suzannasue
    A former facilty where I worked for 3 years too long was implementing ths very system...said it was a means of qwelling pt complaints,such as "took me 3 hours to see a nurse'..oh yeah, location is my business at all times...when I am at work,I work and if someone has to wait over 10 minutes to get a pain med or juice...they will just have to wait,especially if I am in a pts room who is first,the device was to be a beeper thingie...then they said the "tracking device" would be on our name badges...ok...if i go to pee, i put my name badge on the desk or on the bedside table of a pt. The docs thought the device was a good idea since there were so many pt complaints about our not responding in a timely manner...then I suggested the same device be put on their name badges...and that we start keeping a log of how long it takes for them to call back during the night ...
    they didn't like those ideas at all...
    This is a privacy issue...I am not on "house arrest" and this is a legal way of penalizing us for the imperfection of the system in the minds of those who think we should be automatons...what next?????? Will they want to insert little radio transmitters under our skin as a part of emploment agreement??????
    Big Brother Mentality. :stone
  8. by   dianah
    Each floor and unit nurse (and some MDs, e.g., the chief anesthesiologist "running the board" each day) at our hospital carries a SpectraLink phone, a little cellphone (that only works in the hospital) that is passed on from nurse to nurse @ report time. The nurses are more easily accessible, although if you're in the middle of starting an IV or soothing a frustrated patient, they can be very annoying. Overhead paging is not used except in extreme cases (looking for a misplaced outpatient or family member for pt having surgery). I have a headpiece for mine so I can be hands-free talking (I discovered my carpal tunnel really flared up after holding that phone all day for calls, too) when I'm on computer, charting, starting IVs, carrying charts/supplies, doing inventory, etc. I take it off when scrubbed in for procedures (I work in a Radiology Dept). Frustrating, tho', when you're deep in a conversation w/a doc or a clinic nurse re: scheduling an add-on procedure, trying to gather all the pertinent info, and you know someone else is trying to reach you and you can't always put the first caller on hold. Sometimes when I'm calling the floor nurses their phone rings and rings and rings and rings ... well, you get the idea: either their battery is dead or they're too busy to answer. I like the phones for the most part; can't speak for the other nurses. There ARE times I'd like to misplace it accidently-on-purpose . . . Phones like these may help improve nurse accessibility for other hospitals, too, IF administration wants to spend the $$ (I have no idea what they cost). I personally would NOT like that tracking device used (which, I'm sure would cost a pretty penny, probably MUCH more than the SpectraLink system), and would resent it even more if it were only used for the RNs, and not for the MDs and other key personnel also (who may be difficult to reach when ya need one). --- Diana
  9. by   TIREDmidnightRN
    the whole concept is incredibly demeaning! We read and read and read about the terrible nursing shortage, and yet, hospitals increase the dehumanization of nurses! The one I am at right now allows TWO RINGS on the cell phone before you are "in trouble"......two rings while I am up to my elbows in "code brown!"!?!?!...Tracking they can complain if you are "just sitting at the desk", (desperately reading illegible notes to figure out what to tell the consultant on the phone while he yells ).....they even have a nurse administrator at one hospital who paces around to make sure staff has not dared to "steal" a cup of WATER!!!!
  10. by   fedupnurse
    Let the suits wear them. Let the managers wear them. HELLO OUT THERE!!!! If we had enough STAFF patients would not have to WAIT for anything! Not punitive, my @ss! Take the hundreds of thousands that a system like this will cost and spend it on retention incentives! Oh, sorry, I forgot! That would make sense! I would quit in a New York minute if any hospital I worked for got that kind of a system. First I'd have fun. I'd bring in a remote control car and put the badge on it. I would send that thing into every patients room, the med room, the supply room, all over the stinking place. Then I would demand an accounting of my activity and ask them to explain to me how on earth I could possibly be expected to answer calls bells in 9 seconds flat when I am running around like an idiot!

    It is things like this that show just how out of touch the suits are! This is why we have a shortage in hospitals!!!!!! Total lack of RESPECT!
  11. by   LilgirlRN
    The floor nurses have these where I work. Unit nurses including the ED do not wear them. Course if the doc is looking for me, he only has a few places to look. I'm in a patients room, triage or the bathroom. God knows I don't ever get to leave the unit anymore :/
  12. by   fedupnurse
    That is another huge issue I have with this. "So the doctors can find us..." What about when they don't call us back, if at all, for a long time and the patient is circling the drain? Maybe they should have to wear one and the families should have access to their whereabouts! I have had doctors come into the nurses station, sit down, then yell for a nurse to get them the chart they want. Most of my colleagues don't answer them but a few do. I always say to them if I am at the desk and they want me to get up and get them the chart "legs broken?"
    They tried to do that answer the phone in 2 rings crap here and it never got off the ground.
    The suits clearly have far too much time on their hands. And this idea that nurses are the physicians handmaidens idea had just got to die the death it should have many years ago.
    Last edit by fedupnurse on Jun 1, '02
  13. by   SmilingBluEyes
    OK when and if the place I work does this, I shall work there NO MORE, period, end of story. Over and OUT! ***shakes her head in disgust.***** what is next? COW BELLS????? Like some said earlier, this concept would go over *LIKE A FART IN CHURCH* w/ the "professionals" such as our suits, dr's, phamacists, OT's PT's, RT's, etc. NURSES are "professionals" too and worthy of MUCH better treatment and integrity than this!!! sheesh!!!
    Last edit by SmilingBluEyes on Jun 1, '02
  14. by   Peeps Mcarthur
    Why not just fit nurses with those obedience collars in science fiction movies.

    Administration could deliver a heck of an electric shock with a fairly small battery to try and solve short staffing logistics. Why stop there? If you are going to use nurses as scape goats for your lack of insight into staffing issues why not other things as well.

    If you are the ceo and you have an argument with your wife.............just press a button to deliver a few volts to the nursing staff.

    only got a million dollar bonus this year?...............juice 'em!

    Four putt a green at the country club this morning?.............Insubordinate nurses!!!!!!.............make sure they get no more poridge either!

    Patient lawsuits piling up like those annoying vacation requests from staff?..............Find a way to streamline blame of the nursing staff for everything by installing a system to "prove" thier insubordination and thus avoid court time for admin staff.

    Next on the list?.....Colostomy bags for everyone..........real big ones.........eliminating those revenue-sucking potty breaks!

    Yes Blueyes,cow bells are next until nurses get used to the weight..........LOL!:chuckle

    <<<<<<<<Peeps crosses the entire state of Washington off future employment list.