Past studies have indicated a positive correlation between shift length and the rate of medical errors. In situ simulation is an innovative way to study issues in quality of care.
To explore the use of in situ simulation as an investigative method by using it to examine the effects of work length on completion rate of and accuracy at critical care nursing tasks.
Participants were drawn from the nursing staff in the pediatric intensive care unit and were assessed by using a high-fidelity pediatric simulator 3 times during a 12-hour shift. Data recorded included demographic information, time to task completion, and number of steps correctly performed per task.
Twenty-eight nurses with a mean of 5.5 years of experience participated. Each nurse cared for a mean of 1.4 patients per shift. A significant decrease (P < .001) of 5.5 minutes was noted in mean completion time across assessment intervals (from 17.9 to 13.3, to 12.4 min). No significant changes in accuracy were noted. Some accuracy issues seemed attributable to simulation artifact, whereas the use of simulation enabled greater standardization in other aspects of the study.
Critical care nurses take significantly less time to complete tasks at the end of their shift than at the beginning. This, coupled with a lack of change in accuracy of task completion over time, suggests that nursing performance of simple tasks may improve over the course of a 12-hour shift. Simulation can be an effective means to address some quality improvement issues.