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Ring for the Nurse! Improving Call Light Management

  • Authors: Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS
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Target Audience and Goal Statement

This activity is intended for nurses and other healthcare professionals interested in learning more about call light use in the healthcare setting.

The goal of this activity is to enhance patient safety and satisfaction by learning strategies to improve call light responsiveness in both acute and long-term care settings.

Upon completion of this activity, participants will be able to:

  1. List reasons for call light use in acute and long-term care
  2. Describe how call light response is linked to patient satisfaction and safety
  3. Discuss strategies to reduce dependence on call lights
  4. Identify the who, when, and how of optimal call light response


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Medscape, LLC encourages Authors to identify investigational products or off-label uses of products regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration, at first mention and where appropriate in the content.


  • Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS

    Staff Nurse, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Inova Fairfax Hospital for Children, Falls Church, Virginia; editorial board member and section editor, Advances in Neonatal Care


    Disclosure: Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS, has disclosed that she has served as a consultant for Draeger Medical.


  • Susan Yox, RN, EdD

    Editorial Director, Medscape Nurses


    Disclosure: Susan Yox has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Accreditation Statements

    For Nurses

  • This Activity is sponsored by Medscape Continuing Education Provider Unit.

    Medscape is an approved provider of continuing nursing education by the New York State Nurses Association, an accredited approver by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation.

    Awarded 0.5 contact hour(s) of continuing nursing education for RNs and APNs; 0.0 contact hours are in the area of pharmacology.

    Provider Number: 6FDKKC-PRV-05

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For questions regarding the content of this activity, contact the accredited provider for this CME/CE activity noted above. For technical assistance, contact [email protected]

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Ring for the Nurse! Improving Call Light Management: Trends in Nurse-Call Technology


Trends in Nurse-Call Technology

The emphasis on service delivery in hospitals is increasing. Today's patients have higher expectations than ever before. Response to their concerns and complaints is what patients still feel is missing from the hospital experience.[16] The hospital of the future will be more hotel-like, designed to make patients comfortable and relaxed, with amenities like room service and evening turndown services. Enhanced communication between patients and nursing staff will be an essential component of the new hospital environment.

Already, available nurse communication systems are much more than a means of calling a nurse for help or enabling voice communication between patient and nurse.[17] These systems integrate data and communications, linking features such as wireless telephones, pagers, equipment alarms, and locator badges.[17] Wireless systems give nurses greater flexibility in responding to patient requests and cut in half the time needed to fulfill requests.[18] The latest nurse call systems are internet-protocol (IP) based and integrated with a broad range of hospital information systems.

Join our discussion on call lights.



  1. Woodham-Smith C. Florence Nightingale. London: Constable & Co; 1950.
  2. Florence Nightingale. Letter to Lady Charlotte Canning. 5 June 1853. In: Vincinus M, Nergaard B. Ever Yours, Florence Nightingale. Selected Letters. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press; 1989.
  3. Deitrick L, Bokovoy J, Stern G, Panik A. Dance of the call bells. J Nurs Care Qual. 2006;21:316-324. Abstract
  4. Studer Q. Response to call lights. 2008. Available at: Accessed January 18, 2008.
  5. Fletcher Allen Health Care. Nurse call light project. The Sun. 1999;5:1-2.
  6. Schmidt LA. Patients' perceptions of nursing care in the hospital setting. J Adv Nurs. 2003;44:393-399. Abstract
  7. Torres SM. Rapid-cycle process reduces patient call bell use, improves patient satisfaction, and anticipates patient's needs. J Nurs Adm. 2007;37:480-482. Abstract
  8. Van Handel K, Krug B. Prevalence and nature of call light requests on an orthopaedic unit. Orthop Nurse. 1994;13:13-20.
  9. Garbutt J, Bose D, McCawley BA, Burroughs T, Medoff G. Soliciting patient complaints to improve performance. Jt Comm J Qual Saf. 2003;29:103-112. Abstract
  10. US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General. State ombudsman data: nursing home complaints. 2003. Available at: Accessed January 8, 2008
  11. Meade CM, Bursell AL, Ketelsen L. Effects of nursing rounds on patients' call light use, satisfaction, and safety. Am J Nurs. 2006;106:58-70. Available at: Accessed January 8, 2008.
  12. Albert N, Murray T. A study on the use of call lights. Cleveland Clinic Notable Nursing. Spring 2007:7. Available at: Accessed January 24, 2008.
  13. Hitcho EB, Krauss MJ, Birge S, et al. Characteristics and circumstances of falls in a hospital setting: a prospective analysis. J Gen Intern Med. 2004;19:732-739. Abstract
  14. Gray-Miceli DL, Capezuti E. A nursing guide to the prevention and management of falls in geriatric patients in long-term care settings. Medscape Nurses. 2005. Available at: Accessed January 17, 2008.
  15. Rostant DM, Cady RF. Liability issues in perinatal nursing. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 1999.
  16. Press-Ganey. Hospital pulse report 2007. Available at: Accessed January 30, 2008.
  17. Leonidas T Jr. The right call. Selecting an appropriate nurse communication system. Health Facil Manage. 2005;18:20-25. Abstract
  18. Kuruzovich J, Angst CM, Faraj S, Agarwal R. Wireless communication's role in patient response time: a study of Vocera integration with a nurse-call system. (January 2006). Robert H. Smith School Research Paper No. RHS-06-012. Available at: Accessed 30 January, 2008.

Suggested Reading

  • Tsui R. Hourly rounding: how one nurse reduced call lights to almost zero. The Studer Group, 2008. Available at: Accessed January 31, 2008.