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What is a Patient Sitter?

What is a patient sitter?

Patient sitters are used to provide companionship and keep patients safe during their hospital stay. Recently, virtual sitters have been used with fantastic results. MedSitter is a virtual patient sitting solution.

A hospital is a place of healing. Within hospital walls, healthcare providers, pharmaceuticals, and technology all come together to improve the health and outcomes of patients. Unfortunately, there are still dozens if not hundreds of things that can go wrong during a hospital stay. In order to prevent as many bad outcomes as possible, hospitals lean on patient sitters for patient safety and satisfaction. 

What is a Patient Sitter? 

A patient sitter is a medical professional tasked with observing and providing companionship to a patient with an elevated risk. The patient sitter is responsible for preventing dangerous situations and improving a patient’s stay. Most patient sitters work onsite, which means that they can only observe one patient at any given time. Common sitter qualifications include CNA, AHA Certification, Certified Patient Care Technician, and LPN. (Source: Indeed). 

When are Patient Sitters Used? 

The primary function of a patient sitter is to prevent a bad outcome for a patient. The most pressing and preventable negative outcome is a patient fall. Patient falls have been deemed a “never event” by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (Source: AHRQ), and yet still occur at an alarmingly high rate. Every year, 700,000 to 1,000,000 patient falls occur in US hospitals with roughly 250,000 of those falls leading to injury (Source: NCBI). Every patient entering a hospital for care has a reasonable expectation of safety, but there are still intrinsic and extrinsic factors that can lead to falls. Intrinsic factors include advance age, muscle weakness, poor vision, postural hypotension, arthritis, stroke, Parkinson’s, dementia, and more. Extrinsic factors include poor lighting, obstacles & tripping hazards, slippery or uneven surfaces, and psychoactive medications. (Source: CDC). A patient sitter is expected to intervene if a fall-risk patient attempts to get out of bed. Intervention can mean verbal re-direction, calling onsite clinical staff for support, or even sounding an alarm.  

1:1 Patient Sitting Efficacy 

Research surrounding the efficacy of 1:1 patient sitting is limited. Thus far, researchers have been unable to consistently establish a positive correlation between sitter use and patient safety. Some studies report more falls with increased sitter use, some studies report less falls with sitter use. One thing that all medical researchers can agree on is that there is an acute need for patient safety solutions. A widespread literature review recently found that virtual sitting via video monitoring was associated with a decrease in falls, from which we can conclude that virtual sitting is both effective and inexpensive. (Source: Journal of Nursing Education and Practice). 

The Advantage of Virtual Patient Sitting 

1:1 onsite patient sitting requires a lot of staff. In today’s nursing shortage, many hospitals simply do not have the personnel to share. Virtual sitting has emerged as a viable solution. Virtual, or remote patient sitting is a technology-enabled solution that connects at-risk patients to remote observers over video. Mobile carts equipped with cameras are left with at-risk patients. A virtual sitter at a command center can observe multiple patients at one time via a video connection and can contact both the patient and onsite medical staff as necessary. Utilizing one patient observer for several patients serves to stretch staff resources without sacrificing patient safety. Other situations in which a virtual patient sitter can be leveraged to improve patient safety and satisfaction include: 

  • Preventing patient loneliness and isolation through companionship and conversation 
  • Providing calming co-presence so that the patient does not need to be physically restrained 
  • Preventing patient self-harm 
  • Ensuring a patient does not choke 
  • Preventing the use of contraband that would pose a safety concern or hinder a patient’s recovery 

How MedSitter Provides Virtual Patient Sitting 

MedSitter is an industry-leading virtual patient sitting solution. The MedSitter solution allows one observer to watch up to ten patients at one time. MedSitter supplies hospitals with both hardware and software to completely support a virtual sitting program. In response to the intense staffing issues hospitals are facing, MedSitter recently launched a staff augmentation service, MedSitter+ Staff, alongside the virtual sitter technology. There are several MedSitter features that separate the solution from other virtual sitting platforms in the market. Read more about the MedSitter Difference here.  

If you are interested in exploring a virtual patient sitting solution for your hospital, visit the Contact Us page now to schedule a free demo of the MedSitter product.   

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