A study of interruption rates for practice nurses and GPs

Nurs Stand. 1996 Jul 17;10(43):33-6. doi: 10.7748/ns.10.43.33.s53.


This study compares the rate and perceptions of interruptions experienced by practice nurses and GPs. During two recording periods, nurses noted the number of interruptions they experienced before and during their consultations (Paxton et al 1996). The nurses reported 48.5 interruptions per 100 consultations in the first period and 30.2 in the second. Fifty per cent of nurses in the first period and 33 per cent in the second were interrupted during consultation more than ten times per 100 consultations. Nurses reported that interruptions were distracting, affected patient flow and that the confidential nature of some consultations was irrevocably damaged by constant disturbances. It was the perception of the nurses that GPs caused most interruptions. Few patients, however, reported being disturbed as a result of an interruption to the nurse. The rate of interruptions for GPs was much lower and 94 per cent reported being interrupted during fewer than one in 20 consultations, although even then doctors reported interruptions as disruptive. Despite the decrease in interruptions to nurses in the second period of recording, the level remained much higher than that of interruptions to doctors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Family Practice / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nurse Practitioners / organization & administration*
  • Nursing Evaluation Research
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Referral and Consultation / organization & administration*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Workload*