Stocking of essential supplies in an emergency department (ED) is crucial in order to
efficiently and effectively take care of patients. When equipment and supplies are not
available to patient care providers, an imbalance in the delivery of care is created. The
amount of time nurses spend away from the bedside obtaining supplies has only been
superficially studied; however, one study proposed that the majority of nurses spend 5 to 20
percent or more of their time during a shift. This results in 30 minutes to two-and-a-half
hours of a twelve hour shift being lost to retrieving supplies that are not available.
Cabinets and drawers have recently been eliminated in the rooms and stock is kept in "supply
towers" that contain all the necessary supplies to adequately take care of patients with the
exception of medications, or stationary supplies. Towers are restocked every morning by a
stocking technician by taking the towers to the stock room, resupplying them based on
previously established PAR levels, and utilizing a standard chart that describes exactly what
supply, and how many to stock within a specified area of the cart.
During their shift, the stocking technician must also respond to pages concerning low stock
Nurses spend a significant amount of time away from the patient bedside during their shift
looking for supplies.