Thursday, July 24, 2014

Let nurses nurse us

Anyone who's been in the hospital knows that it's not the monosyllabic inhouse doctors or the regular doctors (if you can get them to come over) that really help you, it's the nurses.

Laura Landro wrote in the WSJ (July 22, 2014) about efforts to free up nurses for more bedside time. Instead, they are often chasing test results, calling people, arranging tests, getting meds--sometimes walking as  much as 5 miles a shift around the hospital to round up things for their patients.

Talking with patients and family, evaluating pain, taking complaints, comforting, remaking soiled beds, and maybe just chatting a second--all these take short shrift. One study showed that in a 12-hour shift, nurses spent 2.5 hrs at the bedside.

The more time at the bedside, the fewer the falls, bathroom accidents, infections, medication errors, and the higher the satisfaction. I remember very clearly one time I have been "stuck" so much they got the nursing supervisor--a great sticker--to come in and do it. Years later, I was in the same hospital and remembered her because of her skill and kindness.

My daughter remembered a nurse's kindness in the ER and sent a letter about it--and the nurse got an award at a ceremony.

This time with patients and family is needed as stays grow shorter and more must be done at home--this needs explaining.

Steps some hospitals are taking include bringing the meds to the floor and storing supplies in the patients' rooms. Computers are also in the patients' rooms. One program is called Care at the Bedside. One nurse uses the in-room computer to show patients their images and x-rays.

Another change is to hand over the patients at shift's end in the rooms, not the hall. They ask patients specific questions about how things went in the last shift.

Hospitals are also letting licensed practical nurses and certified nurse assistants render more care at the bedside.

All this is good--not that I want to test it out soon.

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