Category Archives: Nurses

It’s not just doctors and nurses, patients need to wash their hands, too

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Hygiene. Cleaning Hands. Washing hands.

By Shefali Luthra
Kaiser Health News

Encouraging doctors and nurses to wash their hands frequently has always been considered an easy and effective way to curb the spread of infection in hospitals and other health facilities.

But a new research letter published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine points to another key group of people who aren’t always keeping their hands so clean and, it turns out, probably should: patients.

Researchers focused on inner-city Detroit and examined patients who went from hospitals to post-acute care facilities — places like rehabilitation centers, skilled-nursing facilities, hospice and long-term care hospitals.

They found that almost one in four adults who left the hospital had on their hands a superbug: a virus, bacteria or another kind of microbe that resists multiple kinds of medicine. While in post-acute care, about 10 percent of patients picked up another superbug. Of those who had superbugs, 67 percent still had them upon being discharged, even if they hadn’t gotten sick.

These findings add to a growing body of research about hand hygiene and the patient’s role in infection transmission, and speak to an underlying problem with health care facilities — they can increase the odds of getting sick. The paper’s authors suggest it highlights a potential, so far underused strategy for addressing that concern: getting patients to wash their hands. Continue reading

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Nurses Ranked No. 1 for Honesty and Ethics (again), Gallup Poll

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Nurses have topped Gallup’s Honesty and Ethics ranking every year but one since they were added to the list in 1999.

With an 85% honesty and ethics rating  nurses have no serious competition atop the Gallup ranking this year.

Pharmacists and medical doctors constitute the next tier, with about two-thirds of Americans viewing each highly, followed by high school teachers at 60% and police officers at 56%.

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Bill would require drug companies to report their payments to nurses and physician assistants

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Twenty-dollar bill in a pill bottleBy Charles Ornstein ProPublica, Oct. 8, 2015, 11 a.m.
This story was co-published with NPR’s Shots blog.

A bill proposed Wednesday by two U.S. senators would require drugmakers and medical device manufacturers to publicly disclose their payments to nurse practitioners and physician assistants for promotional talks, consulting, meals and other interactions.

The legislation would close a loophole in the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, which requires companies to report such payments to doctors, dentists, chiropractors, optometrists and podiatrists.

Companies have so far released more than 15 million payment records, covering August 2013 to December 2014. Continue reading

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Under pressure, hospitals push physicians to improve their bedside manners

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PrintBy Shefali Luthra
KHN/CNN

A doctor’s training hasn’t historically focused on sensitivity. And too often while juggling heavy workloads and high stress, they can be viewed as brusque, condescending or inconsiderate.

A 2011 study, for instance, found barely more than half of recently hospitalized patients said they experienced compassion when getting health care, despite widespread agreement among doctors and patients that kindness is valuable and important.

But payment initiatives and increasing patient expectations are slowly forcing changes, encouraging doctors to be better listeners and more sensitive to patients’ needs. Continue reading

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New tool helps you check on doctors’ licensure info

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Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 12.46.16 PMFrom the FSMB

The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) has launched a free online resource to provide consumers with important background information on the more than 900,000 actively licensed physicians in the United States, including whether or not a physician has been disciplined by a state medical board.

The Docinfo physician search tool (www.docinfo.org) draws data from the FSMB’s Physician Data Center, the nation’s most comprehensive database of physician licensure and disciplinary information. Continue reading

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Even in nursing, men earn more than women

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woman_doctor_surgeon_bigBy Julie Rovner
KHN

Women outnumber men in the nursing profession by more than 10 to 1. But men still earn more, a new study finds.

The report in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association found that even after controlling for age, race, marital status and children in the home, males in nursing out-earned females by nearly $7,700 per year in outpatient settings and nearly $3,900 in hospitals.

Even as men flowed into nursing over the past decades, the pay gap did not narrow over the years studied: 1988 to 2013.

According to the Census Bureau, men made up about 9 percent of registered nurses in 2011, roughly a three-fold increase from 1970. And even though men were not permitted in nursing programs at some schools until the 1980s, they have overall earned more, just as in society at large.

The biggest disparity was for nurse anesthetists, with men earning $17, 290 more. Continue reading

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Washington Center for Nursing picks new executive director

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Sofia_AragonFrom the Washington Center for Nursing

The Washington Center for Nursing, the statewide nonprofit nursing workforce center, has selected Sofia Aragon JD, BSN, RN to be its new executive director. Aragon, who was hired after a nationwide search, will begin at WCN on April 1.

As the executive director, Aragon will lead Centers work that focuses on promoting nursing as a desirable career; developing and managing data about the nursing workforce; identifying and disseminating information on best practices in nursing recruitment and retention; and increasing access to all levels of nursing education.

WCN collaborates with stakeholders in workforce development, education and practice in Washington and across the United States to address nursing workforce issues.

Aragon brings a background in health care policy and nursing education and practice, having earned: a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of Washington in 1994; a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Seattle University in 1997; and her Juris Doctor degree from Loyola University-Chicago School of Law in 2002. Continue reading

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Ebola-infected nurse contends Dallas hospital violated her privacy

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by Charles Ornstein ProPublica

It was a touching scene, meant to buck up a hospital 2013 and a community 2013 shaken when one of its own nurses was infected with the Ebola virus.

Last fall, when Dallas nurse Nina Pham was about to be transferred for treatment from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas to the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Maryland, a doctor videotaped her farewell from her hospital bed.

“I love you guys,” Pham says, wiping away tears.

“We love you Nina,” the doctor replies.

The hospital released the video as it fended off accusations that it did not do enough to protect its staff after a patient who had contracted Ebola in Liberia sought treatment at Texas Health Presbyterian and died.

Now, in an interview with the Dallas Morning News published over the weekend, Pham contends she didn’t give permission for the hospital to record her or to make the video public.

Pham filed a lawsuit Monday against the hospital’s parent company, Texas Health Resources (THR), claiming not only negligence related to her Ebola infection, but violations of her privacy.

A federal patient privacy law, known as HIPAA, prohibits health providers from releasing information about patients without their permission.

“Never once did THR get Nina’s permission to be used as a PR pawn like this,” the suit says. “Never once did THR discuss its purposes or motivations or tell Nina what it was going to do with the information it sought from her. Instead, THR went to this young lady who was not in the position to be making any such decisions, and used her when she was in the darkest moment of her life, all for THR’s own benefit.”

Beyond that, the lawsuit contends, “Nina’s record was grossly and inappropriately accessed by dozens of people throughout the THR system.” Continue reading

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New Mexico’s nurse hotline touted as a model for other states

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red-telephoneBy Christine Vestal
Stateline

If your infant has a high fever or you’re experiencing an unusual pain in your abdomen and you live in New Mexico, you may want to call the NurseAdvice line before you do anything else.

New Mexico is the only state with a 24/7 registered nurse call center that is free to all residents, whether insured or not. In operation since 2006, it has kept tens of thousands of New Mexicans out of emergency rooms and saved the state more than $68 million in health care expenses.

It has provided a basic form of health care to thousands of uninsured people who have no other access to care. It also has relieved demand on doctors and hospitals in a sparsely populated state where all but a few counties have a severe shortage of health care providers.

On top of that, the statewide call center has generated real-time public health data that has served as an early warning system during epidemics and natural disasters.

[Tweet “Using one number, anyone New Mexico can reach a nurse in less than three minutes.”]

In April, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will recommend New Mexico’s advice line as a national model that other states adopt during an emergency preparedness summit in Atlanta. Continue reading

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Is there really a looming doctor shortage?

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Question markSome Experts Dispute Claims Of Looming Doctor Shortage

By Julie Rovner
KHN

You hear it so often it’s almost a cliché: The nation is facing a serious shortage of doctors, particularly doctors who practice primary care, in the coming years.

But is that really the case?

Many medical groups, led by the Association of American Medical Colleges, say there’s little doubt. “We think the shortage is going to be close to 130,000 in the next 10 to 12 years,” says Atul Grover, the group’s chief public policy officer.

While few dispute the idea that there will be a growing need for primary care in the coming years, it is not at all clear whether all those primary care services have to be provided by doctors.

But others, particularly health care economists, are less convinced. “Concerns that the nation faces a looming physician shortage, particularly in primary care specialties, are common,” wrote an expert panel of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in a report on the financing of graduate medical education in July. “The committee did not find credible evidence to support such claims.” Continue reading

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US to fund $840 million initiative to improve patient care and lower costs

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All interested clinicians are invited to participate in the initiative.

stethoscope doctor's bag chest x-rayUS Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell today announced an initiative that will fund successful applicants who work directly with medical providers to rethink and redesign their practices, moving from systems driven by quantity of care to ones focused on patients’ health outcomes, and coordinated health care systems.

These applicants could include group practices, health care systems, medical provider associations and others.

This effort will help clinicians develop strategies to share, adapt and further improve the quality of care they provide, while holding down costs.

Strategies could include:

  • Giving doctors better access to patient information, such as information on prescription drug use to help patients take their medications properly;
  • Expanding the number of ways patients are able communicate with the team of clinicians taking care of them;
  • Improving the coordination of patient care by primary care providers, specialists, and the broader medical community; and
  • Using electronic health records on a daily basis to examine data on quality and efficiency.

To learn more about the the initiative go here.

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Are nurse practitioners, physician assistants encroaching on specialists’ turf?

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One of the hopes embedded in the health law was to expand the role of nurse practitioners and physician assistants in addressing the nation’s shortage of primary care providers. But a new study questions whether that’s actually happening in doctors’ offices.

Mid-level providers – PAs and NPs – “are doing invasive procedures and surgery. I’m not sure they were trained to do that.”

Of the more than 4 million procedures office-based nurse practitioners and physician assistants independently billed more than 5,000 times in a year to Medicare – a list including radiological exams, setting casts and injecting anesthetic agents – more than half were for  dermatological surgeries. Continue reading

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