Table 1

Task and information tool definitions

Work Task


Direct Care

Tasks directly involved with patient care, eg direct communication with patient &/or family, bathing, applying dressings, nursing procedures etc.

Indirect Care

All tasks indirectly related to patient care, eg reviewing results, planning care, washing hands, reviewing documentation, returning equipment

Medication Tasks

All tasks associated with medication, includes preparation, administration, documentation, discussion & clarification


Documentation (paper and electronic), excludes medication documentation

Professional Communication

All non-medication related communication with another health professional includes ward & patient handover. Excludes medication related discussion


Ward Related


Ward activities, includes coordinating beds & staffing

In Transit

Time between tasks and between patients. Excludes movement between patients in a shared room and movement within a single room


Supervising others, including students


All non work communication, eg meal/tea breaks, personal calls


Any other task not included above

Information Tools Used

Permanent Record

Tasks involving the writing/reading of information in a patient's permanent paper medical record, including: progress notes, request forms, medication chart, observation chart, nursing care plans


Tasks involving writing on temporary paper notes, eg bedlist, handover sheet, little notebook

Desktop Personal Computer (PC)

Tasks involving the use of a computer for information searching, retrieval and documentation


Tasks involving using the telephone

Westbrook et al. BMC Health Services Research 2011 11:319   doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-319

Open Data