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See KC, Phua J, Mukhopadhyay A, Lim TK
Correspondence: Dr Kay Choong See, Kay_Choong_SEE@nuhs.edu.sg
INTRODUCTION Distractions and interruptions of doctor’s work, although common and potentially deleterious in the intensive care unit (ICU), are not well studied.
METHODS We used a simple observational method to describe the frequency, sources and severity of such distractions, and explore at-risk situations in the ICU. Independent paired observers separately shadowed eight residents and three fellows for 38 sessions (over 100 hrs) in a 20-bed medical ICU.
RESULTS In total, 444 distractions were noted. Interobserver agreement was excellent at 99.1%. The mean number of distractions/doctor/hr was 4.36 ± 2.27. Median duration of each distraction was 2 mins (interquartile range 2–4 mins; range 1–20 mins). The top three initiators of distractions were other doctors (35.1%), nurses (30.4%) and oneself (18.7%). Of the 444 distractions, 107 (24.1%) were prolonged (lasting ≥ 5 mins), 210 (47.3%) led to a complete pause of current activity and 85 (19.1%) led to complete abandonment of the current activity. On multivariate analysis, physician seniority, time of session and day of week did not predict frequency of distraction. After adjusting for time of session, day of week and type of current activity, urgent distractions (to see another patient, perform immediate procedures or administer medications) and physician juniority were associated with major distractions (complete interruption or termination of current activity), while only urgent distractions were associated with prolonged distractions.
CONCLUSION Distractions are common in the ICU and junior doctors are particularly susceptible to major distractions.
Keywords: distraction, fellow, intensive care, interruption, resident
Singapore Med J 2014; 55(7): 358-362; http://dx.doi.org/10.11622/smedj.2014086
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