How to Reduce Nurses Burnout by Turning Chaos into Order

by Mary Jagim RN, MSN, CEN, FAEN | CNO at Infinite Leap

As an emergency nurse of more than 25 years, I was not surprised when I read in the “Nurse Burnout 2020” report, recently released by KLAS, that the main contributor to work burnout for my fellow nurses is a chaotic work environment.  

There are many factors that impact this situation, from staffing shortages to budget constraints; however, what was the most frustrating to me was the lack of visibility into what was happening in my department from the patient flow and capacity perspective.

As an ED nurse, I understand the difficulty in predictability of patient volumes; however, once patients are in our department I want to be able to have a full situational awareness of patient location and their status, and availability of “resources” – clinical and ancillary staff, and medical equipment.

As I often say: “You can’t manage a situation if you don’t know what you are dealing with.”

This means so much to me that now, in my consulting work at Infinite Leap, I look for every possible way to help reduce the intrinsic chaos of the healthcare environment. I believe that the work we are doing with Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS), mainly through automated patient tracking and patient flow management, can make a huge difference in creating order from chaos.

Here are just a few examples:

– When patients are wearing a location badge, I can see in real time where they are, and their status, so I don’t need to search to find them.

– When patients move from one phase of care to the next one, automated text updates are sent to designated members of a patient’s family, so I can keep focusing on my patients while easing family member’s anxiety.

– When I need to find a specific piece of medical equipment to provide care to a patient, I don’t need to search all over the department to find it; I can look up its current location and retrieve it so I am not wasting my valuable time and getting frustrated.

– When patients are waiting too long, I will be automatically notified about it, so I can be proactive, mitigating the need for service recovery which adds stress to everyone.

– And when I feel unsafe or need assistance, I can press a button on my badge and know that my colleagues will come to help me.

I know that technology is not a silver bullet, but when you let technology offload some of your work tasks, such as tracking patients, you will regain time and mental balance, removing some of the chaos and lessening the chance for staff burnout.