J Grad Med Educ. 2021 Apr;13(2):266-275. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-20-00698.1. Epub 2021 Apr 16.
BACKGROUND: Daily attending rounds (AR) are a cornerstone of teaching and patient care in academic health centers. Interruptions in health care are common and can cause increased risk of errors, incomplete work, and decreased decision-making accuracy. Interruptions to AR may diminish a trainee's capacity to learn and retain information.
OBJECTIVE: We characterized and quantified interruptions that occur during AR.
METHODS: We used a mixed-methods design combining a prospective observational study with a qualitative study. AR were observed January to March 2020 to characterize interruptions, followed by semi-structured interviews with the observed physicians to elucidate the effect of interruptions on workflow and the educational value of rounds.
RESULTS: There were 378 observed interruptions over the course of 30 AR sessions, averaging 12.6 (range 1-22, median 13) interruptions per rounding session. Bedside nursing staff was the most common source of interruptions (25%) and consultant recommendations was the most common topic of interruption (21%). Most interruptions occurred during patient presentations (76%), and the most common method of interaction was text message (24%). Most team members described negative effects of interruptions, including loss of focus and missing critical clinical information; some also reported that certain interruptions had positive effects on education and clinical care. Interns were more likely to report negative emotional reactions to interruptions.
CONCLUSIONS: AR are frequently interrupted for non-urgent topics by a variety of methods and sources. Negative effects included loss of focus, missed information, and increased stress. Proactive communication, particularly between physicians and nurses, was suggested to reduce interruptions.