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The Stay S.A.F.E. Strategy for Managing Interruptions Reduces Distraction Time in the Simulated Clinical Setting

Henneman, Elizabeth, A., PhD, RN; Marquard, Jenna, L., PhD; Nicholas, Cheryl, PhD; Martinez, Vanessa, BSE; DeSotto, Kristine, BS; Scott, Susan, S., MSN; Soares, William, E., MD; Henneman, Philip, L., MD

doi: 10.1097/CNQ.0000000000000201
Original Articles

Interruptions occurring during the delivery of health care are frequent and create a serious threat to patient safety. It is important to test strategies directed at decreasing the negative effects of interruptions. The purpose of this pilot study was to test the Stay S.A.F.E. strategy for managing interruptions. A pretest, posttest quasi-experimental design was used to test the primary hypothesis that the Stay S.A.F.E. interruption management strategy would significantly (P < .05) reduce distraction time away from a primary task following an interruption. Twenty nurses with a median of 12 years of experience (range: 1-45 years) participated in the study. There was a significant decrease in the amount of time that participants were distracted away from the primary task between the pretest (134.47 seconds, SD = 6.87) and posttest (6.08 seconds, SD = 1.27) periods; P = .0004. The results of this study suggest that the Stay S.A.F.E. interruption management strategy was effective in reducing the length of time participants were distracted from the primary task in a simulated clinical setting. In addition, nurses confirmed the reports of others that interruptions are frequent, dangerous, and result in errors.

College of Nursing (Dr E. Henneman and Ms Scott), and Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, College of Engineering (Drs Marquard and Nicholas and Mss Martinez and DeSotto), University of Massachusetts Amherst; Department of Nursing, Westfield State University, Westfield, Massachusetts (Ms Scott); and Department of Emergency Medicine, Baystate Medical Center, Springfield, Massachusetts (Drs Soares and P. Henneman).

Correspondence: Elizabeth A. Henneman, PhD, RN, College of Nursing, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 226 Skinner Hall, 651 North Pleasant St, Amherst, MA 01003 (

This work was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation CMMI 1234070.

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

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