Nurse call systems have changed quite a bit over the years. In facilities today, these systems are used to achieve several functions. However, the meaning of a nurse call system remains the same as well as its fundamental function.
Nurse call systems are equipment used by a patient to alert or communicate with a caregiver. It goes without saying that since the fundamental function has remained the same, the standard components would remain the same.
There are certain basic components of any nurse call system. Each of these components plays a role in making the system work as it should, ensuring the safety of patients and caregivers.
Standard Components of a Nurse Call System
The UL 1069 code governs the placement, notification, and resetting of patient-initiated and staff-initiated signals. This code also states the basic requirements in a nurse call system.
The Facility Guidelines Institute (FGI) also provides some guidelines on the device requirements for different room types. You might also want to check which codes your state adopts.
While modern development has enabled nurse call systems to do more, we have traditional components that are always a must. We have explained them below.
The master station is usually located at the nurse station, out of the seeing and hearing range of patients. It allows for the visible and audible annunciation of calls. The master station has two primary pieces of equipment to enable this function.
- A telephone handset with LCD screen
- A PC-based central console with telephony capabilities
The central console helps in prioritizing calls, checking call status and room numbers. It can track and display the time of call initiation. The hospital could also program it for call reminders based on a pre-determined time for call attendance.
A room station is a station that allows patients or staff to signal for assistance. The communication is usually initiated by the simple press of a button or the pull of a cord. It could signal for nurse assistance or code blue. FGI specifies the type of communication needed in each type of room.
Primarily, this station is located at the patient's bedside. The button is usually on the pillow speaker. The speaker can have other functions like temperature, television, and lighting control. Other advanced functions can also be connected to the patient station to monitor bed rail position and medical equipment.
However, the FGI has identified other positions like the toilet station, shower station, and caregiver-initiated station, which we will discuss below.
This station is a simple pull cord that allows patients to seek assistance for getting on or off the toilet. It should be located strategically such that patients can activate it while lying down in the case of a fall.
This station is similar to the toilet station. The difference lies in the fact that the station is designed to handle the wet environment of a shower.
This station is usually a wall-mounted push button and allows caregivers to call for help from the master station. FGI only requires it in certain types of rooms.
Call devices in a room station come in different shapes and sizes. Some are cord sets with adapters, while others are pendant style with a push-button switch. The wall-mounted devices with push buttons and lights are the most common, though. FGI can give you more insight into what's best for your facility.
Duty and Staff Stations
These stations are usually located in hallways and other remote areas that a caregiver could access. There are strategically placed for caregivers to know of calls even when they are in break rooms, nourishment stations, linen rooms, and other such areas.
A duty station has an audible and visual indication of an initiated call. On the other hand, a staff station provides two-way voice communication along with the functions of the duty station. Duty stations are no longer widely manufactured, though. Most manufacturers produce staff stations and market them as a duty/staff station.
The station can either show the specific patient calling or allow the caregiver to communicate with the master station to maintain confidentiality.
These multi-colored LEDs are placed in front of every room with a call initiation station. It makes response time faster as nurses can quickly locate the room needing help. Other than expediting response time, dome lights can also communicate additional messages to nurses or caregivers. Some of those information include;
- A different color for each type of emergency
- Flashing patterns or pulsing to distinguish the level of need
- Used with staff locator technology to show the type of caregiver in the room
Dome lights are usually mounted where they can be seen from the nurse station for maximum effectiveness. Where this is not possible, zone lights are used for quicker location till the specific room is seen.
All Work Together!
All these standard components of nurse call systems work together to achieve their purpose. That's why it's a system and not just one piece of equipment. The room stations are used for call initiation, nurses are alerted about the emergency at the master station or other duty/staff stations, and dome lights make it easy to locate the room with the emergency and respond promptly.
Nurse call systems of today have added more components and features. However, you can never do away with the standard components that we have discussed above.