The “Watching Over” Effect

At a conference I attended a few years ago, I heard a presentation by a nurse who had just completed his dissertation. His topic was one that I had never given a formal name to…”watching over”…or the process a nurse uses to oversee the well being of a patient.

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What he found in his research was that patients feel safer when a nurse just drops by during the course of a shift and asks how the patient is doing. This “watching over” of patients is really accomplished by what is now commonly called “rounding”.

While rounding has been part of nursing for as long as there have been nurses watching over patients, it did not really get formal recognition in the nursing literature until the 1980’s. Since that time several studies have supported the importance of rounding and many hospitals have instituted formal rounding procedures.

In a formalized rounding process, each patient is checked at least once every hour during the daytime hours and every two hours during the night (unless the patient requests not to be disturbed). At each visit, the patient is asked about specific issues: pain, positioning and comfort; toileting; and close proximity of necessary items (water, tissues, etc.). As the nurse leaves, he/she asks, “Is there anything else I can do for you?” and gives the assurance that the nurse will return in another hour is also given.

Formal rounding programs have resulted in:

  • Better patient safety with fewer patient falls
  • Better pain control
  • Increased patient satisfaction survey results
  • Patients say they feel more cared for

Bonus! For busy nurses, the result is fewer call lights! For hospital administrators, the results are increased nurse and patient satisfaction and improved staff retention. With patient satisfaction now tied to reimbursement, ways to improve the ratings patients give to their hospital stays have become extremely important. It seems that patients who feel that they are “watched over” report that their hospital experience was a more positive one.

Here at PPR we believe helping our clients find nurses (and therapists) who will “watch over” their patients is a significant part of what we do. Give us a call if you think we can help.

Ruth R. Stiehl, Ph.D., R.N.