Effects of the Interruption Management Strategy "Stay S.A.F.E." During Medication Administration

Author Department

Patient Care Services

Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date



Purpose: This study measured the impact of the Stay S.A.F.E. intervention on nursing students' management of and response to interruptions during medication administration. Time to return to the primary task, performance (procedural failures and error rate), and perceived task load were evaluated.

Design: This experimental study used a randomized prospective trial.

Methods: Nursing students were randomized into two groups. Group 1 (the experimental group) received two educational PowerPoints: the Stay S.A.F.E. strategy and medication safety practices. Group 2 (the control group) received educational PowerPoint on medication safety practices. Nursing students participated in three simulations where they were interrupted during a simulated medication administration. Eye tracking of students' eye movements determined focus, time to return to the primary task, performance including procedural failures and errors, and fixation time on the interrupter. The perceived task load was measured using the NASA Task Load Index.

Results: The intervention group, which is the Stay S.A.F.E. group, demonstrated a significant reduction in time away from task. There was a significant difference in perceived task load across the three simulations, including decreased frustration scores for this group as well. The control group members reported a higher mental demand, increased effort, and frustration.

Clinical relevance: Rehabilitation units often hire new nursing graduates or individuals with little experience. For new graduates they have typically practiced their skills without interruptions. However, interruptions in performing care, particularly in medication management, occur frequently in real-world situations. Improving the education of nursing students related to interruption management has the potential to improve their transition to practice and patient care.

Conclusion: Students who received the Stay S.A.F.E. training, a strategy to manage interruptions in care, had decreasing frustration over time and spent more time on the task of medication administration.