How Do Nurse Call Systems Work and When Are They Required?
A nurse call system sounds simple, but is it really? Many people have vague familiarity with nurse call systems but don’t know the specifics of how they work. So, how do nurse call systems work? Simply put, they allow a patient to call or contact their nurse or nurse’s station easily. Some nurse call systems also allow staff to communicate with each other, and others have integrated staff/equipment locator options. While the function of a nurse call system is pretty easy to understand, the system itself is relatively complex and has a number of components. Let’s break it down in more detail.
Common Features of Nurse Call Systems
While modern nurse call systems can have many different features and options, perhaps the most common main components of a nurse call system are:
- Pillow speaker (or call light). This allows the patient to contact the nurse, as well as control the TV and overbed lights. Alternative breathe calls (for patients with limited movement or paralysis) can be plugged into the wall station; these let the patient contact the nurse simply by inhaling or exhaling into a particular tube.
- Wall station. This contains the microphone and speaker for communication between the nurse and patient. It also contains the code blue button and is the receptacle for the pillow speaker. IV pumps or ventilators can be connected to the nurse call station via the wall station, allowing alerts at the nurses stations whenever the connected equipment goes into alarm. This notifies the nurse to any equipment alarms more quickly than otherwise possible.
- Bed cable. It allows the patient bed to be connected to the wall station. When the bed alarm is set, this allows the staff to know if a patient that shouldn’t exit the bed is attempting to exit. It can also allow a patient to call the nurse’s station via a button on the bed rail.
- Desk console. The desk console is like a telephone (and looks very similar to a telephone); it allows the unit secretary or nurse to answer call from the patient or call into the patient’s room whenever necessary.
- Code blue. Code blue signifies a patient in need of immediate help. If a staff member presses the code blue button a group of alerts go off at the nurse’s station, as well as inside and outside of the room (and anywhere else where the nurse call system is set up to alert).
A functioning nurse call system is a lifeline between patient and medical staff. Visitors can use the nurse call system on the patient’s behalf, as well. Modern nurse call systems can have many different options and features for both patients and staff. It’s safe to say that things have come a long way from the 1800s, when a patient would ring a bell to get a nurse’s attention.
When Are Nurse Call Systems Required?
It’s safe to assume that the laws in the area of your medical center or senior citizen care facility require that a call button is within reach of patients at all times, because of its essential function to patients in case of emergencies. There is also legislation that varies geographically that can mandate required response time by medical staff. You should familiarize yourself or your staff with the relevant legislation in your area.
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