How Do Nurse Calls Work?

June 21, 2022 | By: mm-admin

A nurse call holds an extremely important role at any health care facility. They provide a vital connection between caregiver and patient, which is even more important in case of an emergency. Nurse calls allow patients to communicate their needs with nursing staff efficiently, effectively and affordably. This makes it an excellent option for nursing homes looking for a system that is cost-effective as well as patient and nurse friendly. There are laws that dictate the types of nurse call systems required and the areas in which they must be placed in different medical centers and nursing care facilities to keep them in reach of patients at all times. This demonstrates the essential function nurse calls play in providing urgent care to patients in case of emergencies. Legislation will vary based on the geo-location of a facility to dictate how quickly medical staff must respond to nurse calls.

How Do Nurse Calls Work?

Nursing homes can greatly benefit from nurse call systems as they provide an extra precaution that allows people of varying health levels to have more independence and a stronger sense of security. Modern nursing systems also provide an opportunity for nursing homes to look at integration with current IT infrastructures to make vast improvements across many different areas. Understanding how nursing calls work helps illustrate how they can improve patient care within your facility.

Why Nurse Calls are Used

Nurse calls provide a simple communication option allowing patients to reach their nurse or a general nurse station with the push of a button. They can also be used for communication amongst nursing staff as part of an integrated system that offers locator options throughout a facility, floor or department. Nurse calls can also be used by visitors who might need to reach the nurse to request assistance on behalf of a patient. In its basic role, the nurse call is quite simple. However, the function of the system can be quite complicated integrating key medical devices such as IV pumps and ventilators. There are also varying types of nurse call systems including:

  • Nurse Call
  • Bed Call
  • Bathroom Call
  • Wireless Solutions
  • Wandering Patient (RFID)

Important Features of Nurse Call Systems

There are many customized features available for modern nurse call systems. However, for the most part, they share the following common features:

  • Call Light/Pillow speaker: This is the main part of the system located at the patient’s end. It provides access to contact with the nursing station. However, it also can provide access to other controls such as overhead lighting and televisions. There are also special systems available for those who are unable to activate the system due to paralysis or limited movement. These systems use breathe calls which are plugged into the wall station. Patients call the nurse by exhaling or inhaling into a tube.
  • Wall station: This is the main part of the communication system which acts as the receptacle for the call light. It holds the speaker and communication that allows the patient and nurse to speak to each other. Another important component of the wall station is the code blue button. Other important equipment can be connected to the station allowing the nurses’ station to monitor a patient’s equipment such as IV pumps or ventilators. This is the most efficient way for nurses to receive equipment alarms.
  • Bed cable: This connects the patient’s bed to the wall station and provides an alarm to alert nurses if a patient has left their bed. Wandering patients can be tracked using RFID technology. This is very important for patients who should not be leaving their beds unattended. The bed cable can also provide a call button located on the bed rail.
  • Desk console: This part of the system looks and acts like a telephone allowing staff to make or receive calls from a patient as required.
  • Code blue: Code blue can be set up to send out an alert to the nursing station as well as other areas of the facility. Staff members press the code blue button in emergency situations to alert the team a patient requires immediate assistance.


Modern nurse call systems are designed for easy assimilation with existing technology within your facility as well as common medical devices. These devices can include EMRs, cardiac monitoring, telemetry, wireless phones or biomedical equipment. This provides an opportunity for facilities to improve response time by sharing critical information with each other in real time. This approach to interoperability across multiple systems eliminates middleware providing safer practices and greatly improving many procedures. By ensuring assimilation is properly handled it will allow your facility to optimize your communication, operations and ROI.

Seamless Integration

Choosing a nurse call system should work seamlessly with other support resources as well as with existing technologies. It should assist in enhancing existing or soon to be improved workflows without causing disruptions to the facility. Nurse call systems should be chosen to improve current performance and make it easier for patients to interact with staff. Each system should be designed to meet the needs of your facility with the appropriate capabilities and functions to improve patient care. This requires a close look at the current infrastructure of the facility in order to address needs and understand other technologies that might require replacement in the process. This will allow you to come up with solutions that will provide a more cost-effective approach to upgrades with a better ROI on the new technology required.

Some areas many facilities upgrade when installing a new nurse call system could include:

  • Electronic Medical Records (EMR)
  • Mobile device
  • Medical devices
  • Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS)

It is extremely important to identify all the equipment that will be affected by the upgrade before selecting a nurse call system, as you have to ensure it is compatible with existing technology. This will save time and money throughout the implementation process. The IT department will provide valuable input to help identify gaps in the existing infrastructure and reduce the required effort to upgrade the system over the longer term.

As a project manager overseeing the selection and installation of a nurse call system, it is important to gather information about the systems available in order to find the proper system is selected. At Fire Monitoring of Canada, we can help you find the perfect solution for your facility. Contact us today for more information.