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AJN’s August Issue: Preventing Pressure Ulcers, Strengths-Based Nursing, Medical Marijuana, More

August 1, 2014

AJN0814.Cover.OnlineAJN’s August issue is now available on our Web site. Here’s a selection of what not to miss.

Toward a new model of nursing. Despite the focus on patient-centered care, medicine continues to rely on a model that emphasizes a patient’s deficits rather than strengths. “Strengths-Based Nursing” describes a holistic approach to care in which eight core nursing values guide action, promoting empowerment, self-efficacy, and hope. This CE feature offers 2.5 CE credits to those who take the test that follows the article.

Decreasing pressure ulcer incidence. Hospital-acquired pressure ulcers take a high toll on patients, clinicians, and health care facilities. “Sustaining Pressure Ulcer Best Practices in a High-Volume Cardiac Care Environment” describes how one of the world’s largest and busiest cardiac hospitals implemented several quality improvement strategies that eventually reduced the percentage of patients with pressure ulcers from 6% to zero. This CE feature offers 2.8 CE credits to those who take the test that follows the article. And don’t miss a podcast interview with the authors (this and other podcasts are accessible via the Behind the Article page on our Web site or, if you’re in our iPad app, by tapping the icon on the first page of the article).

Read our Cultivating Quality column this month for another article on using evidence-based nursing practice to reduce the incidence of hospital-acquired pressure ulcers and promote wound healing. Read the rest of this entry »

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Marijuana Legalization and Potential Workplace Pitfalls for Nurses Who Partake

July 30, 2014

Julianna Paradisi, RN, OCN, writes a monthly post for this blog and works as an infusion nurse in outpatient oncology.

Mount Hood, Oregon as seen from the Washington State side of the Columbia River Gorge/photo by Julianna Paradisi

Mount Hood, Oregon, as seen from the Washington State side of the Columbia River Gorge/photo by Julianna Paradisi

Wednesday, July 9, 2014, marked the first day of legal, recreational marijuana sales in the state of Washington, not long behind similar new laws in Colorado earlier this year. As in Colorado, the marijuana supply in Washington was initially insufficient to keep up with demand; stores ran out of cannabis before all customers waiting hours in line got through the front door.

The following weekend, my husband and I (we live in Portland, Oregon) took a road trip through the Columbia Gorge on the Washington side of the river.

“Hey, we could buy a joint here, and share it,” I joked. (Neither of us actually partakes.)

My husband, a pharmacist, remarked, “It may be legal, but testing positive at work could get either of us fired or invite state board investigation.”

For my husband and me, as Oregon residents, the point is moot: no amount of THC in our urine or blood is legal. For Washington and Colorado residents, however, the newly legalized status of marijuana creates confusion for employers and employees alike. In Washington and Colorado, a drug test positive for THC is no longer illegal, but being under the influence of legal substances like alcohol, for instance, violates employer policies.

This fact was illustrated in the news on the very first day of marijuana sales in Washington. A Spokane resident was fired when his purchase became public. Since then, the man has been rehired. After considerable media coverage, the company decided that, since he had the day off when he made the purchase, he was not under the influence while at work, the possibility of which is the underlying rationale for their drug testing policy.

Does being a nurse or health care provider add another layer of complexity to this issue? I think so. Positive drug tests are not acceptable for the majority of nurses and health care professionals. Smoking a joint legally in Washington over the weekend means that THC may remain detectable in urine for about a week, and longer for regular smokers.

You can see the dilemma: It may be legal for a nurse, pharmacist, or surgeon to smoke cannabis in Washington, or Colorado, but you probably also want to know that they are not under the influence of any mind-altering substances, legal or otherwise, during patient care. And, crucially, a positive drug level indicating intoxication has not been established for cannabis, as it has for alcohol. Read the rest of this entry »

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Revisiting Reality Shock – What’s Changed for New Nurses?

July 28, 2014
julie kertesz/ via flickr creative common

julie kertesz/ via flickr creative common

By Maureen Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

Last month, we highlighted on Facebook a blog post I had written in 2010, “New Nurses Face Reality Shock in Hospital Settings – So What Else is New?” (It seemed timely in terms of all the June graduations.)

I wrote that original post in response to a study that had just been published in Nursing Outlook (here’s the abstract) describing the experiences of new nurses. Generally, these newbies felt harried, unprepared, overworked, and unsupported—all similar concerns voiced by nurses in Marlene Kramer’s 1974 book, Reality Shock: Why Nurses Leave Nursing. (Here’s AJN’s 1975 review of the book. It will be free for a month; note that you have to click the PDF link at the article landing page to read it.)

My post back in 2009 noted how nothing much seemed to have changed since the publication of Kramer’s book. Now, once again, this post has generated many comments, a number of them on our Facebook page as well as on the original blog post.

Here are a few. I’ll start with Facebook:

I’m almost a 20yr RN and have experienced [this] in a new job. I’ve developed skills to deal with this over the course of my career, so it doesn’t impact me like it did as a new nurse…but to new nurses out there: just know that bullies have some personality disorder that extend[s] beyond the workplace (even if you never get to see it). Learn, be happy, and go on your way. It’s them, not you.

It’s up to nursing leaders at all levels to set the expectations and role model professional behavior.

The real problem is that we will no longer want to work as nurses . . . it has become so difficult for so many reasons. So at the end of a long shift you wonder, “Is it worth it? Is it?”

And some comments from the blog: Read the rest of this entry »

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If She Yells ‘Help Me’ – Poster Therapy to Convey the Needs, Identity of an Ailing Parent

July 23, 2014

Joan Melton, MSN, lives in Indiana.

Photo by Ann Gordon, via Flickr

Photo by Ann Gordon, via Flickr

I am a geriatric nurse practitioner and have also been the daughter to an ill, aging parent. I felt well trained for my professional role but struggled with the latter.

I joked that, despite my logical understanding of what was going on with my mother, it could be hard to accept her physical and functional changes, which sometimes seemed to fly in the face of logic. There were days Mom’s hospice nurses spent more time with me than with my mother. They’d sit and allow me to vent my frustration at watching my mother slowly leave me, at feeling overwhelmed and “losing my cool” with her, at not being able to practice the advice I’d so readily handed out to so many other families over the years, not being able to “fix it” and successfully comfort all of Mom’s fears and ailments 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Yes, I know how unrealistic that last statement sounds. Thank goodness for hospice nurses, who reminded me that I was “the daughter” and did not need to be “the nurse practitioner.” They reminded me that as the daughter I had amazing insight no one else had.

So, when Mom spent a week in the nursing home to give my family some long-overdue respite time, her hospice nurses suggested I share all of my rich, personal, daughterly insight.

Their idea was brilliant. It made me feel useful and allowed me to feel less guilty about taking Mom to the nursing home. Most of all, it reminded me of who my Mom really was behind the mask of her dementia.

Mom’s health issues had begun with chronic, recurrent atrial fibrillation. Placed on Coumadin for stroke prevention, she fell, hit her head, and had a cerebral bleed. She was taken off Coumadin, and during her recovery had another episode of atrial fibrillation, this time suffering a thrombotic stroke that left her with memory problems and expressive aphasia. In addition, Mom was blind from the effects of glaucoma and macular degeneration.

In summary, Mom was unable to walk by herself, couldn’t find words to say what she wanted to say, and could only see shadows. Naturally, she became fearful and frustrated as her world closed in on her. Confusion and anxiety were side effects of her condition(s). At times, she was so anxious that she became short of breath. Her oxygen levels would drop, and her confusion would get worse. In addition, her appetite changed. She lost weight, and like many elderly patients, she had recurrent urinary tract infections from not drinking enough fluids.

Two posters. Before it was time to take Mom to the nursing home, the hospice nurses suggested I make two posters to display in her room. They suggested that on the first I list who my Mom was behind the mask of her dementia. What did Mom love to do before she became ill? They also suggested I put photographs of Mom on the poster to show what she’d been like before she became so frail.

On the second poster they suggested I write things to help the staff at the nursing home take better care of Mom, tips that only I knew from my past experiences as her caregiver and her daughter. Seeing these things written on a poster and displayed in her room would serve as a reminder for the staff, and would provide an easy way to share important information about her to all the different staff members who would be involved with Mom’s care.

I took the nurses’ excellent advice and began making the two posters. The entire family helped. Mom’s posters were the talk of the nursing home. People would come into her room just to read them. Here are a few examples of what we wrote:

Poster #1
Mom loves flowers, especially zinnias.
Mom’s was married to Dad (name) for 51 years. Dad went to heaven eight years ago.
Mom had five children (we listed their names). Mom calls out for her oldest son.
He and his wife took care of Mom at home.
Mom loves to waltz and old-time country music.
Mom loves to talk to her sister (name) on the phone every day. Mom is extremely close to her sister. Their mother died when they were only four and six years old.
Mom loves cooking for her family. She makes the best fried chicken.
She loves listening to the Catholic mass on TV or praying the rosary.
Mom loves going to the country, raising cows and bottle feeding the baby calves. She would give the cows names like pets.
Mom loves having her hair fixed and putting on make-up and looking nice every day. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tragic Plane Crash, Truvada Concerns, Changing Infection Rates: AIDS/HIV Issues in the News

July 21, 2014
Truvada

Truvada / via Wikimedia Commons

By Jacob Molyneux, AJN senior editor

There have been a number of recent high-profile news stories as well as some notable new research related to HIV/AIDS and its treatment and prevention.

First, AJN would like to add its voice to those expressing heartfelt regret at the deaths of a number of prominent and widely respected HIV advocates and researchers in the Malaysia Airlines jet that appears to have been shot down over Ukraine last week.

The Truvada controversy. Those who who died on the plane had been heading to an international conference in Melbourne, Australia, where one of the hot topics under discussion would be the pros and cons of the continuing expansion of the use of the antiretroviral drug Truvada beyond the treatment of existing HIV infection to long-term prophylactic use by the uninfected.

The topic is particularly timely here in New York where Governor Cuomo last week announced that New York State would make Truvada a centerpiece of its HIV-prevention strategy. The drug, taken every day, is more than 90% effective in preventing infection, but, as an NPR story recently described, a number of experts have raised concerns about widespread long-term use of Truvada for HIV prevention, noting

  • serious potential side effects of Truvada.
  • the $1,300/a month cost of the drug.
  • the reduction in the use of condoms by some of those taking Truvada, which could lead to higher rates of other sexually transmitted diseases.

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Ethics of a Nurse’s Refusal to Force-Feed Guantanamo Hunger-Strikers

July 18, 2014

Douglas Olsen is an associate professor at the Michigan State University College of Nursing in East Lansing and a contributing editor of AJN, where he regularly writes about ethical issues in nursing.

Nasal tubes, gravity feeding bags, and the liquid nutrient Ensure used in Guantanamo force-feeding/ image via Wikimedia Commons

Nasal tubes, gravity feeding bags, and the liquid nutrient Ensure used in Guantanamo force-feeding/ image via Wikimedia Commons

The Miami Herald reported this week that a U.S. Navy nurse and officer refused to take part in force-feeding hunger-striking detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

There’s much we still don’t know about this story, but the force-feeding of prisoners at Guantanamo has been a contentious issue for some time. The practice has been compared by some to torture, and ethicists in the medical literature have urged the physicians involved to refuse to participate, while the U.S. government and President Barack Obama defend the practice on humanitarian grounds of preventing the deaths of the detainees.

Whether or not one feels that nurse participation in the force-feeding is justified, this officer, whose identity has not been released, appears to deserve the profession’s praise for taking a moral stand in an extraordinarily difficult circumstance. All nurses have the right of conscientious objection, of refusing to participate in practices that they find morally objectionable—assisting in abortions is another practice that some nurses have opted out of on moral grounds—and officers in the U.S. armed services are bound to consider the legality and morality of orders they carry out.

Much is at stake for this nurse. Not only do officers risk their careers when refusing an order on moral grounds, but they must breach a sacred principle of effective military operation: obedience to the chain of command except by an officer in extraordinary circumstances.

Further, the officer deciding to refuse an order must make this determination alone and accept severe consequences if the further consideration of the higher chain of command, the courts, or history does not support her or his assessment. Read the rest of this entry »

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Getting Patients Involved in Care Redesign: What the Research Says

July 16, 2014

By Sylvia Foley, AJN senior editor

“I think the whole thing is we’re trying to im­prove care. It’s all about [patients] anyways. So if we’re gonna make changes that impact them I think we have to get them involved.” —study participant

Although there is considerable support for increasing patient involvement in health care, it’s not clear how best to achieve this. And few researchers have specifically investigated the views of patients and providers on patient engagement. In this month’s CE–Original Research feature, “The Perceptions of Health Care Team Members About Engaging Patients in Care Redesign,” Melanie Lavoie-Tremblay and colleagues describe findings from their recent study. Here’s a brief overview.

Objective: This study sought to explore the perceptions of health care workers about engaging patients as partners on care redesign teams under a program called Transforming Care at the Bedside (TCAB), and to examine the facilitating factors, barriers, and effects of such engagement.
Design: This descriptive, qualitative study collected data through focus groups and individual interviews. Participants included health care providers and managers from five units at three hospitals in a university-affiliated health care center in Canada.
Methods: A total of nine focus groups and 13 individual interviews were conducted in April 2012, 18 months after the TCAB program began in September 2010. Content analysis was used to analyze the quali­tative data.
Findings: Health care providers and managers benefited from engaging patients in the decision-making process because the patients brought a new point of view. Involving the patients exposed team members to valuable information that they hadn’t previously thought about during decision making.
Conclusion: Health care teams stand to benefit from engaging patients in the change process. Patients contribute a different point of view, and this helps to ensure that the changes proposed and implemented address their needs.

Noting the importance of mindset, the authors concluded that “perhaps the most important facilitating factor in including pa­tients on care redesign teams is for all those involved to believe that their participation is crucial to im­proving the design and delivery of services.”

For more details, read the article, which is free online. What’s your take on patient engagement?

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