Compression Complexity in an Outpatient Setting

The Field of Nursing

Working outdoors has become a part of everyone’s life these days, and is a need of the hour for every household. With the rise in the economic crisis throughout the globe, there may hardly be any household where a mature member may not be employed in an institution.

Out of the many distinguished and most valued jobs, nursing is one of its kinds. Nurses serve at hospitals and medical centers, and assist doctors in taking care of the patients who need medical attention. Since nurses are playing a helping role in the medical field, they are seen as dignified individuals, and are always looked up to for aid.

Nursing as a Profession

Nurses have tough work schedules, and are on their toes through their duty hours, because of the demanding nature of their job. One minute they are at one end of the room, and the other minute at the other end, providing aid to the patients, or being the third hands of the doctors on duty. The duties of nurses may involve administering medicines to patients, injecting them, or even doing paper work specifically, for the time period they are there. It is quite a tiring job to be multi-tasking at a medical institute, especially because of the urgency of completing all major tasks pertaining to patient care on time.

Nurses have their personal obligations alongside the tough working schedules they encounter, but have to keep them aside, and make their jobs their priority. Providing health care in tough times is also a challenge they encounter; these tough times may include any traumatic incidents or natural disasters, which increase work load.

Nurses and their Work Load

It is undoubtedly quite challenging for a nurse to undertake her duties in the minimal timeframe he or she has. In the fixed duty hours allotted for work, a nurse has to abide by the responsibilities bestowed on her, and additionally look after extra work that comes in the way. In any medical setting, there are certain methods according to which the nurses have to carry out their tasks. Their time is managed well in compliance with their activities, but the problem arises when they have to cater to other actions apart from their own.

Taking Care of Extra Work

The actions that a nurse undergoes are very energy consuming, with all the running around and amount of dependability of the hospital administration on these employees. A large number of hospital or clinical personnel are dependent on nurses, and the actions carried out by them. Because of the significant accountability of nurses, they are unable to decline any extra duties that they have been given, and have to mould their time tables or events of the day in such a way, so as to cater to the extra burden that is placed on them, apart from their assigned duties as part of the routine. However many tasks they are to carry out according to their time tables, they still have to accommodate any additional errands that may come in the way.

Nurses and Multitasking

Nurses work like a family with their counterparts and patients, in the medical settings they have been employed at (Dix, K., 2005). This is an inbuilt spirit they possess, which enables them to perform better, and the relationships that they share with one another are what energize them most. To maintain a healthy environment at the workplace, nurses are encountering every situation to the best of their abilities, with great enthusiasm and high spirits.

Multitasking is when a single individual has to do more than one chore at one time. This has shown to produce higher memory load (Laxmisan, A., et.al, 2009). If memory load increases, there are more chances of making errors in the work at hand. This is a disadvantage of multitasking in any setting of work.

The Outpatient Setting

The outpatient medical setting may involve certain risks, because of its ever too frequent utilization for medical practices, and inadequate equipment and manpower to accommodate the arising problems (“Health Affairs”, 2002). The outpatient department of any medical institute can never be big enough to room uncountable patients pouring in, but there has to be a way to manage things in order to provide the best services and medical attention to them.

The workload for nurses is indeed high, having to attend patients, obey and fulfill the medical doctor’s requirements, according to the patient’s conditions. An essential task also to be performed by nurses, is, catering to prescription refill requests.

The study being conducted here relates to the refill requests of medical prescriptions of patients in the outpatient setting of a medical centre. On an average, there are approximately one hundred prescription refill requests that need to be paid attention to. These are all external requests that come into the room through telephone, fax, or email. The nurses have to do a lot of checking before the prescription refill is completed.

There are two nurses in the setting being discussed here. A nurse has to verify the most recent office visit for any comments given by the medical doctor during the visit. The oipiod medical log sheet is observed for the rights of drug administration, which are five in number. This includes the date on which the previous prescription was filled. Plenty of calculation is involved in this, of the days and weeks, for maximum accuracy. After this step, the next phase is to transcribe the prescription onto the opioid sheet. This is followed by placing the chart on a stack of previously addressed charts which the medical doctor is to review.

The prescription is signed by the doctor after checking, and is stamped; the chart is then placed on another pile for another nurse to review, thus the whole process is repeated. This is called the “independent check”. On completion, the registered nurse puts her initials on the medication log, the original prescription is photocopied, the carbon copy torn off, and the original prescription is put into an envelope. The photocopy of the prescription is put into the chart, along with the original refill request.

As is apparent, this is a long and hectic process, if it is to be done around a hundred times daily. The complexity in this entire procedure arises when there are multiple other tasks that come along the way to getting the prescription refill process completed. This is why the whole phenomena is called compression complexity, because there is too much complexity in the normal schedule of work. The factors that give rise to this compression upon nurses include the medical doctor’s call, a call from the administration, calls that need to be returned, and patients’ calls, which comprise queries for these nurses.

With so many tasks to handle at once, and being physically and mentally stressed out, it is normal for this entire scene to be named compression complexity. The nurses at work are compelled to attend to each of these interruptions, apart from doing the tedious prescription refill process, multiple times daily. There are only two nurses to do all these chores. This is a point that needs to be looked into.

This may be a rejoicing experience for some, as nursing involves caring for patients. This care is given according to a certain plan that is pre-existing, or they may give their offerings to the plans (“Bureau of Labor Statistics”, 2007). Whatever pattern they follow, there has to be some time and energy management on their part.

Time Management

Using human and material resources wisely can help to save plenty of time and energy of the individual. If the workload is substantial, like those of the nurses at the outpatient setting of the medical center, then there is dire need of chalking out a plan that would produce maximum efficiency on the part of the nurses. Managing time in such a way to get the most out of an individual, within the shortest possible time, is to actually gain relief, despite the hectic routine.

A solution that can be provided for time management is to make time plans for work. But in this case, the time plan can only be employed for the regular work that is being done, and not for the interruptions that arise amidst work, as they are unplanned, and uncertain. With proper time management it would be much easier to handle workload and do some extra jobs at hospital as well. Nurses can fix their routine hours for regular job and perform their unscheduled work like emergencies and unexpected work due to doctor’s absence or colleague’s absence by re-scheduling their time table daily.

Energy Management

Energy has to be managed, so that the least amount of energy is consumed while working. In other words, maximum efficiency is to be attained for the minimal consumption of energy. Meager issues such as saving footsteps can help save energy in turn, and reduce exhaustion. Step saving and unnecessary body movements save substantial energy and may keep the nurses afresh.

This is a topic not many people have researched or studied intensely, because it is ignored, although the efforts of nurses from cradle to grave are surely appreciated. They become a part of a person’s life, because health related problems keep arising through the lifespan. However, being a manager at the medical centre, and viewing these two nurses doing the multiple chores mentioned, it gave me insight into the topic of how compression complexity is being raised in the prescription refill area. It additionally amazes us to see the errands being done error-free, and the nurses possess such pleasant facial expressions so as to please the patients and make them feel better.

Whatever the job, work pressure minimizes the focus of an individual, and this hinders goal attainment. Although this routine of the nurses is meeting the demands of the workplace, nevertheless they are burdened unnecessarily by the tasks they have to perform apart from their prescription refilling duties.

References

Dix, K. Washington Nurses Rejoice in Multitasking 2005. Web.

Laxmisan, A., Hakimzada, F., Sayan, O., Green, R., Zhang, J. & Patel, V. The multitasking clinician: Decision-making and cognitive demand during and after team handoffs in emergency care 2009. International Journal of Medical Informatics, Volume 76, Issue 11, Pages 801-811. Web.

Health Affairs. Preventing Errors in the Outpatient Setting. Web.

Bureau of Labor Statistics 2007. Web.