A Study of Critical Task Interruptions among Circulating Nurses in a University Hospital

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Rattima Sirihorachai
Usavadee Asdornwised
Siwaporn Thuchart
Monawat Ngemcham


         Purpose: The purposes of this study were to identify frequency and sources of interruptions in the operating room, and to compare average of interruption occurrence in each level of the interruption effects among different types of surgery and different years of working experience.

         Design: Descriptive study.

         Methods: Ninety-nine circulating nurses performing critical tasks in 1) head neck breast 2) gastro-intestinal and abdomen 3) urological and 4) orthopedic surgeries were observed regarding the frequency and sources of interruptions of circulating nurses’ role at a university hospital in Thailand using the Interruptions Rating Scale. Data were analyzed by using descriptive statistics and Kruskal Wallis test and Mann Whitney U.

         Main findings: Results from the observation on circulating nurses performing critical tasks in ninety-nine surgeries showed that mean intraoperative duration was 155.1 minutes (SD = 77.2). Most of them were female (86.9%) with mean age of 41.1 years (SD = 9.69); 56.6% were registered nurses and 43.4% practical nurses. Overall, 446 intraoperative interruptions were observed during 3 critical tasks. The most frequent sources of distractions and interruptions were people entering/exiting room (153 times, 34.3%), phone/radio/beeper (118 times, 26.45%), irrelevant communication (72 times, 16.14%). Data indicated that nurses with more working experience (>10 years) were more likely to be distracted and interrupted by case irrelevant communication than those with less experience (≤ 10 years) (p = .033).

          Conclusion and recommendations: This study shows high interruptions during critical tasks in operating rooms. This study provides evidence of the need of developing guidelines/work instruction to minimize unnecessary interruptions during critical task procedures in operating rooms. Moreover, education and training for circulating nurses in operating rooms regarding handles interruptions in the safety manner are also needed.


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Sirihorachai, R., Asdornwised, U. ., Thuchart, S. ., & Ngemcham, M. . (2020). A Study of Critical Task Interruptions among Circulating Nurses in a University Hospital. Nursing Science Journal of Thailand, 38(3), 87–100. Retrieved from https://he02.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/ns/article/view/242642
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