Time motion analysis of nursing work in ICU, telemetry and medical-surgical units

Elizabeth Schenk, Ruth Schleyer, Cami R. Jones, Sarah Fincham, Kenn B. Daratha, Karen A. Monsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Aim: This study examined nurses’ work, comparing nursing interventions and locations across three units in a United States hospital using Omaha System standardized terminology as the organizing framework. Background: The differences in nurses’ acute-care work across unit types are not well understood. Prior investigators have used time–motion methodologies; few have compared differences across units, nor used standardized terminology. Methods: Nurse-observers recorded locations and interventions of nurses on three acute-care units using hand-held devices and web-based TimeCaT software. Nursing interventions were mapped to Omaha System terms. Unit-differences were analysed. Results: Nurses changed locations approximately every 2 min, and averaged approximately one intervention/minute. Unit differences were found in both the interventions performed and the locations. Most interventions were case-management related, demonstrating the nurses’ patient management/coordination role. Conclusions: Unit differences in nursing interventions and location were found among three unit types. Omaha System terminology, as well as the observational method used, were found to be feasible and practical. Implications for Nursing Management: Nursing work varies by unit, yet managers have not been armed with empirical data with which to make more informed decisions about nurses’ work priorities, clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction, staff satisfaction and cost. The results from this study will help them to do so.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)640-646
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nursing Management
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • hospital nursing staff
  • intensive care unit
  • medical-surgical
  • omaha system
  • telemetry
  • time and motion studies

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