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Distances covered by ICU nurses during their shifts


We monitored the distances covered by nurses during their work in the ICU. An automatic step counter was used to estimate the distances.


Seventeen nurses were monitored during 102 hours in total. Eight of them were responsible for one ICU patient during the monitoring period and nine took care of two patients at the same time.


The mean distance covered was 0.9 (range 0.4 to 1.3) km/hour, resulting in a mean 10.7 km per 12-hour shift. The distance was significantly different according to the number of patients the nurse was responsible for. The nurses taking care of two patients walked significantly more compared with the nurses with one patient (1.0 with range 0.9 to 1.3 compared with 0.7 with range 0.4 to 1.1 km/hour, P = 0.027). During their shift the nurses walked a mean 12.3 km when taking care of two patients and 8.9 km when working with only one ICU patient.


Nurses need to cover long distances during their everyday work. In some cases the walking distance may be expected to reach 15 km during the 12-hour shift. Optimization of the working load and logistics to reduce the walking distances should be the goal.

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Nahk, E., Frolova, S. Distances covered by ICU nurses during their shifts. Crit Care 13 (Suppl 1), P463 (2009).

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  • Public Health
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Monitoring Period
  • Walking Distance
  • Step Counter