Hospitals, NICUs, and other extended-care wards stay open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. As a result, NICU nurses often maintain flexible work schedules that don’t align with the typical 9-to-5. A NICU nurse’s schedule might involve five eight-hour shifts one week and four 10-hour shifts the next, and will likely include some shifts on weekends and holidays.
NICU nurses are also the first line of defense for neonatal patients with a variety of health conditions, including prematurity, birth defects, infections, and surgical problems. NICU nurses need a broad set of skills to stay ahead of whatever issues may arise. In a given week, they may be called upon to help with tasks ranging from IV changes, bottle feeding, and keeping NICU medical equipment clean to helping with chest tube insertions, attending high-risk deliveries, and delivering lab samples.
All of this is to say that, in addition to being responsible for providing high-quality patient care (which many of us are extremely thankful for), neonatal nurses’ workloads require them to juggle an extraordinary number of priorities in a high-pressure environment. Exchanging legacy enteral connectors for ENFit® connection systems is one step hospital stakeholders can take to help simplify nurses’ workloads while also helping ensure the best patient outcomes.
Why Are NICU Nurses’ Workloads So High?
The intensity of NICU nurses’ workloads is due in large part to an increased demand for nurses in a time when there’s a global shortage of healthcare workers. This is compounded by the number of facilities that have reduced their staffing while approving more overtime to meet minimum shift numbers, as well as by increased pressure to reduce the length of patient stays. Additionally, while their actual workload is a significant contributing factor to the quality of care that nurses can provide, “perceived” or “subjective” workloads can also have an impact. For example, a NICU nurse with one year of experience might find a workload unmanageable, while a more experienced nurse may not.
These various stressors put considerable strain on NICU nurses. Caregivers are required to manage patient-, job-, and task-level demands simultaneously, and though they may seem like superheroes, NICU nurses are human, too. When people are tired and stressed, they make mistakes. In fact, research has found that when nurses’ responsibilities exceed optimal workload thresholds, a patient’s likelihood of experiencing a safety incident goes up by 10 to 30 percent, and their risk of death increases by almost 40 percent.
Missed care — care that is delayed or partially or entirely incomplete — is one possible consequence of excessive workloads. If NICU nurses are overburdened, they may have less time to give to each of their tasks and responsibilities. Missed care is an especially concerning phenomenon, as NICU nurses are responsible for coordinating, providing, and evaluating how patients receive care. The added pressure to stay on top of a long and expanding to-do list can lead to incomplete or improperly performed tasks.
How ENFit® Enteral Connectors Can Help
ENFit® products are enteral feeding systems that are compliant with ISO standard 80369-3, which, among other updates, includes a unique connector component that is incompatible with other tubing systems such as IVs, gas tubing, or dialysis lines. ENFit® products can’t put more hours in the day or reduce NICU nurses’ workloads, but they can go a long way toward helping alleviate common challenges.
One such challenge is human error. Since ENFit® products can only connect to other ENFit® products, the risk of an accidental misconnection is drastically reduced. Even if you’re moving fast, it’s impossible to make the wrong connection.
Another challenge is missed care. Legacy slip tips can create secure connections if you push them into the cap and turn them 90 degrees, but if you go too far the tip can become loose. Still, it might look like the tip is fully connected, which can lead to incomplete nursing care. Once ENFit® products are highly secure once connected— nurses can trust that they’ll maintain the connection and complete the task. ENFit® products also help NICU nurses when they’re pressed for time. The security of ENFit® connections helps nurses do their work with confidence, which helps them work both quickly and safely.
Begin the Shift to ENFit® Today
NICU nurses provide vital services and care for neonatal patients. During this sensitive time in young patients’ lives, it’s critical that nurses are able to give each patient the proper care without burning themselves out in the process. Hospital administrators must do everything they can to take care of their people — which includes providing them with the tools they need to do their work quickly, safely, and effectively. This starts with adopting ENFit® products.
At Kentec Medical, we work hard to make it as simple and straightforward as possible for procurement managers to get ENFit® products into their hospitals. We believe that providing exceptional customer service is a foundational part of NICU nurses being able to provide patients with better care, which is why we’ll work with you closely during the transition to ENFit® connection systems. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about enteral connectors or ENFit® products.