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Where's the Marker? Perceptions of Whiteboards in the Emergency Department.

BACKGROUND: In the emergency department, bedside whiteboards are used to help improve communication, teamwork, and collaboration among health care providers. In addition, previous studies have shown that whiteboards aid the patient with the identification of their health care providers, plan of care, expected length of stay, and overall patient satisfaction.

PURPOSE: This evidence-based evaluation project assessed the perceptions of emergency department health care providers on their awareness of the effectiveness of bedside whiteboards, whether there are challenges with using them, and whether they are being updated and used consistently.

METHOD: A survey was utilized to evaluate emergency department health care providers (nurses, patient care technicians, and attending providers) on their perceptions of bedside whiteboards in the patient rooms using a 10-question survey.

OUTCOMES: The survey was sent via email to 135 emergency department health care providers, with 64 respondents. The survey results showed that 41.3% of the respondents agreed that bedside whiteboards promote patient satisfaction, 36.5% agreed that they promote patient safety, 53.1% agreed they take minimal completion time, and 50% felt they help keep patients informed about care. However, 85.9% of participants felt bedside whiteboards are not updated consistently, and 81.2% felt they are not updated consistently among all 3 shifts. In addition, 73.4% reported that they lack access to materials to update the whiteboards and 38.1% were neutral regarding whiteboards promoting patient safety.

IMPLICATIONS: Proper materials (markers and erasers) are integral to bedside whiteboard use. Continued staff education on the function of bedside whiteboards may improve proper whiteboard use.

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