Posts Tagged ‘Nurses’

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The Delicate Dance for Stability

February 23, 2015

By Patricia O’Brien

Loïe Fuller sketched by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec/via Wikimedia Commons

Loïe Fuller sketched by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec/via Wikimedia Commons

In college I got a part-time job as a companion to an elderly widow named Fran, driving her around town and assisting with errands: post office, hairdresser, the market, her psychiatrist. The routine was set, and all was well for many months.

But one day, something unusual happened. Fran opened her door with a grand flourish, eyes shining. The television, radio, and blender were blasting. “Shall we go,” I asked, hurrying to turn off the noisy electronics.

“Fran,” I observed, “the blender’s empty.”

“Let’s not bother with tiresome details. I’m out of my head today,” she said, with purposeful excitement. At the pharmacy, this time, I took notice of the medication I picked up for her: lithium.

“What’s lithium for?” I asked, sliding into the car.

“A bipolar disorder. Not to worry. I’ve navigated these choppy seas half my life.”

We did errands. All the while, she acted like she was on the campaign trail for mayor, laughing, waving to friends, and smoking up a storm. At the market she hugged the meat manager, who was arranging Italian sausages. He looked confused, but smiled and told her there was a special on calf’s liver.

“I’ll take it all,” she declared, making a grand gesture with her newly acquired Cecil B. DeMille tendencies. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Measles 101: The Basics for Nurses

February 11, 2015

By Betsy Todd, MPH, RN, CIC, AJN clinical editor

Measles rash/CDC

Measles rash/CDC

While debates about measles vaccination swirl around the current U.S. measles outbreak, most U.S. nurses have never actually seen the disease itself, and right now we are a lot more likely to encounter a case of measles than of Ebola virus disease. Here, then, is a measles primer.

Symptoms. Measles is an upper-respiratory infection with initial symptoms of fever, cough, runny nose, red and teary eyes, and (just before the rash appears) “Koplik spots” (tiny blue/white spots) on a reddened buccal mucosa. The maculopapular rash emerges a few days after these first symptoms appear (about 14 days after exposure), beginning at the hairline and slowly working its way down the rest of the body.

Infected people who are severely immunosuppressed may not have any rash at all. “Modified” measles, with a longer incubation period and sparse rash, can occur in infants who are partially protected by maternal antibodies and in people who receive immune globulin after exposure to measles.

Transmission. The virus spreads via respiratory droplets and aerosols, from the time symptoms begin until three to four days after the rash appears. (People who are immunosuppressed can shed virus and remain contagious for several weeks.) Measles is highly contagious, and more than 90% of exposed, nonimmune people will contract the disease. There is no known asymptomatic carrier state, and no nonhuman animal is known to carry or spread the virus. The virus survives for less than two hours in the air or on surfaces, and is rapidly inactivated by heat, light, acids, and disinfectants.

Isolation. When measles is suspected, airborne isolation is necessary. If negative pressure is not available, the patient should be placed in a room with the door closed. Only immune staff wearing N-95 masks should enter the room.

Diagnosis. The usual test for measles is serologic testing for immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibody; a positive test confirms the diagnosis. IgM is often evident as soon as the rash appears, and can be detected for about a month. A negative IgM test on a specimen taken within 72 hours of rash onset may be a false negative; the test should be repeated. Read the rest of this entry ?

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So You’re a Nurse With a Story to Tell…

January 30, 2015

Madeleine Mysko, MA, RN, coordinator of AJN’s monthly Reflections column, is a poet, novelist, and graduate of the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars who has taught creative writing in Baltimore for many years.

karindalziel/ via Flickr Creative Commons

karindalziel/ via Flickr Creative Commons

Whenever I meet someone new who happens to be a nurse—in both clinical and social settings—I wait for the right moment to mention my work at AJN on the Reflections column. It’s not only that I’m proud of the column. It’s also that I’m forever on the lookout for that next submission—for a fresh, compelling story I just know is destined to shine (accompanied by a fabulous professional illustration) on the inside back page of AJN.

“I imagine you have a story or two to tell,” I’ll say to a nurse I’ve just met—which is the same thing I say, whenever I have the chance, to nurses I’ve known for years. I mean it sincerely; given the vantage point on humanity that our profession affords, I actually do believe that every nurse is carrying around material for a terrific story.

The response I usually get (along with a wry smile, the raising of eyebrows, or a short laugh) is, “Oh yes. I have stories.”

But then—even as I’m mentioning the Reflections author guidelines, even as I say warmly that we’re eager to read—I can sense the backing away.

“Sure,” the nurse will say. “I’ll check it out . . . but the thing is, I’m not exactly a writer.”

Photo by mezone, via Flickr.

Photo by mezone, via Flickr.

How to explain it?—how to explain that we aren’t so much looking for nurses who are good writers as we’re looking for essays well written by good nurses.

If you’re still with me in this scenario (and especially if you’re someone not exactly inclined to sit down before breakfast on your day off and pen a gem of an essay) maybe you could let me know what you think of this pitch: Read the rest of this entry ?

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AJN in February: Rapid Response Teams, Complications of CHD Repair, Managing Type 2 Diabetes, More

January 29, 2015

AJN0215 Cover OnlineAJN’s February issue is now available on our Web site. Here’s a selection of what not to miss.

Rapid response teams (RRTs) are teams of expert providers who can be called on in an emergency to treat patients before their condition deteriorates. The success of an RRT depends on whether it is activated properly, a task that often falls to staff nurses. The original research article, “Hospital System Barriers to Rapid Response Team Activation: A Cognitive Work Analysis,” describes the factors affecting nurses’ decisions to activate RRTs. This CE feature offers 3 CE credits to those who take the test that follows the article.

Further explore this topic by listening to a podcast interview with the author (this and other free podcasts are accessible via the Behind the Article podcasts page on our Web site, in our iPad app, or on iTunes).

Long-term complications after congenital heart defect (CHD) repair. Nurses often encounter patients with complications that occurred years after CHD repair. “Long-Term Outcomes After Repair of Congenital Heart Disease: Part 2” reviews four common CHDs, their repairs, common long-term outcomes, and implications for nurses in both cardiac and noncardiac settings. This article offers 2.5 CE credits to those who take the test that follows the article.

Making nurses full partners in reforming health care. The Institute of Medicine’s report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, suggests that nurses should be full partners in reforming health care in this country. “A Bold New Vision for America’s Health Care System” is the first in a series that will revisit the report’s recommendations and the progress that has been made toward making them realities. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Long-Term Complications After Congenital Heart Defect Repair

January 19, 2015

By Betsy Todd, MPH, RN, CIC, AJN clinical editor

Even those of us who don’t work in peds or cardiology are familiar with the amazing surgeries done to repair congenital heart defects (CHDs). After surgery, kids with CHDs are literally transformed, their glowing good health a reminder that medical miracles really can happen.

Sometimes, though, health problems develop many years after CHD surgery. These can be consequences of the original defect itself, or of the specific type of repair that was employed.

In this month’s CE feature, “Long-Term Outcomes after Repair of Congenital Heart Defects (part 1),” Marion McRae, an NP in the Guerin Family Congenital Heart Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, discusses the anatomy, physiology, and repair options related to six common CHDs: bicuspid aortic valve, atrial septal defect, ventricular septal defect, atrioventricular septal defect, coarctation of the aorta, and pulmonic stenosis. One of the types of congenital heart defects covered in the article is shown in the illustration.

Figure 3. Secundum Atrial Septal Defect and Transcatheter Occlusion. Secundum atrial septal defect is located in the center of the atrial septum (A). Blood usually shunts across the defect from the left atrium to the right atrium. The Gore Helex septal occluder is shown in a partially deployed position across the atrial septum (B). LA = left atrium; LV = left ventricle; RA = right atrium; RV = right ventricle. Illustration by Anne Rains.

Figure 3. Secundum Atrial Septal Defect and Transcatheter Occlusion. Secundum atrial septal defect is located in the center of the atrial septum (A). Blood usually shunts across the defect from the left atrium to the right atrium. The Gore Helex septal occluder is shown in a partially deployed position across the atrial septum (B). LA = left atrium; LV = left ventricle; RA = right atrium; RV = right ventricle. Illustration by Anne Rains.

Because patients tend to do so well after surgical repair, many eventually discontinue cardiology follow-up. This means that when problems do develop in adulthood, nurses in nonspecialty settings may be the first to evaluate patients’ cardiac changes. McRae’s succinct summaries of common CHDs and their long-term outcomes is a “primer” that guides us in the initial assessment of these patients. (All CE articles in AJN are free.) Read the rest of this entry ?

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Calling All Nurses to Address Health Disparities

January 16, 2015

Susan B. Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, is senior adviser for nursing at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and director of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action.

The author with nursing students at the Rhode Island Nurses Institute Middle College, the first charter school in the country for high school students who want to major in nursing.

The author with nursing students at the Rhode Island Nurses Institute Middle College, the first charter school in the country for high school students who want to major in nursing.

The research on health disparities is stark and continues to increase. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Health Disparities and Inequalities Report–2013 found that mortality rates from chronic illness, premature births, suicide, auto accidents, and drugs were all higher for certain minority populations.

But I believe passionately that nurses and other health professionals can be part of the solution to addressing these disparities. Nurses are privileged to enter into the lives of others in a very intimate way—lives that are often very different than our own.

I understand that it is human nature to be more comfortable with the familiar, but this is not what we are called to in nursing. More than 150 years ago, Florence Nightingale noted a strong link between a population’s health and its economic prosperity, and she called for all people to be treated equally.

My mother told me that when she first entered nurses’ training at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital School of Nursing in 1943, Director Blanche Edwards addressed the students on her conduct expectations for nurse trainees. Part of that lecture—and of the nursing culture absorbed by those being trained at Bellevue—addressed the equality of all human life and how she expected her nurses to treat everyone with equal care and attention. Read the rest of this entry ?

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A Brief Meditation on Love, Loss, and Nursing

January 14, 2015

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

Manicure, by Julianna Paradisi, 2014

Manicure, by Julianna Paradisi, 2014

As a child, I remember being afraid to fall in love, because I didn’t want to experience the pain of losing people I loved when they died. I don’t know why I thought about this; I only know that I did.

Becoming a nurse has done absolutely nothing to alleviate this fear, but life experience has, to some degree.

Nursing is hard not only because we are there for the dying, but also because we are there for the illnesses and deaths of our own, the people we love, too. Making a living by caring for the sick and dying does not exempt us from personal loss. We grieve and mourn like everyone else.

Recently, I sat in a chair in an emergency department, noticing the sparkly red polish of a woman’s holiday manicure as she rolled past on a gurney. Clearly, she hadn’t anticipated an ER visit as part of her holiday celebrations either. On another gurney, next to my chair, lay my husband, getting an EKG, labs, and IV fluids. The prayer, “Please, don’t let it be a heart attack or a brain tumor,” wove silently through my thoughts.

We were lucky. There was no heart disease, no brain tumor. It was viral, just a touch of the flu. Two liters of IV normal saline did the trick.

“Thank you.”

I wish everything could be cured with a couple of liters of normal saline. There are nurses reading this post who recently grieved for loved ones absent from their places around the holiday meal table. No one mentions that all love stories eventually end. The most enduring conclude at death, and there’s the burn. Nurses know there’s no such thing as love without loss. Read the rest of this entry ?

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