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August 19, 2020

4 Reasons Your Hospital Should Have a Patient Sitter Program

There are four main reasons your hospital needs a patient sitter program:

  • It increases patient safety
  • Patients get a better experience
  • Nurses are more satisfied
  • It saves money

1. It increases patient safety

Video monitoring systems, alarms, and other forms of technology are sometimes touted as more cost-effective alternatives to hiring hospital sitters. But these only address patients who are at risk of falling.

Other safety issues require more than just video monitoring. Suicide prevention—something on The Joint Commission’s National Patient Safety Goals for 2020—requires a well-trained sitter to keep at-risk patients safe.

Sitters should be trained in de-escalating crisis situations, recognizing signs of mental and physical distress, cardiac arrest, and stroke. They should also obtain certifications in life-saving techniques such as CPR.

While sitters do lower the number of patient falls, they're also able to help with other patient safety measures, especially when it comes to behavioral health.

2. Patients get a better experience

Many hospitals are forced to have clinicians spend time sitting with patients. They’re often the best trained for handling crisis situations and providing the quality of care a patient or patient’s family expects.

But this only adds to what is already a heavy workload for the nursing staff, and it pulls them away from important clinical responsibilities.

When a nurse is required to sit one-on-one with a patient, they’re losing time on the floor and negatively impacting the nursing to patient ratio. This leads to an increased workload for the other nurses and makes it that much harder to provide a great patient experience.

A patient sitter program gives those hours back to nurses. Clinical staff can recapture up to 0.44 hours of clinical care per patient day from a program that uses dedicated, well-trained sitters. Scaled out over an entire facility over the course of a year, the results are massive.

benefits of a patient sitter program3. Nurses are more satisfied

Nurses are too often pulled into tasks outside of the scope of their clinical responsibilities. Giving them more time to focus on patient care makes them happier and gives your patients a better experience.

“The lack of a patient sitter program at our facility was causing major disruptions in our staffing. We were forced to pull our techs, CNAs, and unit coordinators off their normal duties to sit with a patient, which put a strain on our clinical operations and ultimately wreaked havoc on our overall staffing. [Now, the patient sitter program] has made life easier for our nurse managers and we see that reflected in the morale of our team.” -- CFO, Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center, Davenport, Florida

4. It saves you money

Lastly, an effective patient sitter program saves you money. The overhead cost of using nurses and CNAs to sit with patients is significant. Having a dedicated team of trained sitters uses your hospital’s resources more effectively.

Sitters can also be trained to perform environmental services and patient transport tasks to further reduce overhead labor costs and streamline various hospitality services.

A patient sitter program can increase your hospital’s patient safety, patient satisfaction, and nursing satisfaction, all while saving you money. Even in the midst of COVID-19, providing trained sitters can improve your hospital’s performance and give much needed assistance to your clinicians who are battling the virus every day.

Tag(s): Healthcare

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