About Corinne McSpedon

AJN senior editor.

‘An Urgent Public Health Challenge’ – APHA Meeting Emphasizes Climate Change

APHA climate change/health infographic. Click to enlarge.

The theme of this year’s American Public Health Association (APHA) meeting in Atlanta is “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Climate Changes Health.” The meeting is estimated to have drawn 12,000 attendees. Below are highlights so far.

Threats and opportunities.

Monday night, Howard Frumkin, DrPH, MPH, MD, of the University of Washington, called climate change “one of the most pressing public health issues we face.” In discussing the recently released Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change 2017 Report: U.S. Briefing, a joint publication of the Lancet and APHA that highlights the threats and opportunities climate change poses to Americans, Frumkin identified some key findings:

  • Exposure to dangerous heat and severe weather events is increasing.
  • Exposure to disease and allergies is changing (one example: allergy seasons are often prolonged).
  • The carbon intensity of U.S. energy use is decreasing, but this process must be accelerated to reduce climate-related health risks.

Nurse voices in environmental health.

During a session called “Public Health Nursing Research—Climate, Health, and Vulnerable Populations,” Linda A. McCauley, PhD, RN, FAAN, of Emory University, highlighted the vital role nurses play both in producing research findings about environmental hazards and human health and in translating these into practice.

“Nurses can go to the science and take it back to the community. That’s what we’re so good at.”

But when it comes to speaking out about environmental issues and nursing research, she observed, “I don’t think we’ve harnessed […]

2017-11-08T10:31:59+00:00 November 8th, 2017|environmental health, Nursing|0 Comments

The Health Impacts of Hurricane Harvey—What Nurses Need to Know

Geocolor imagery of Hurricane Harvey on verge of making landfall. Image created by the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere.

As Hurricane Harvey, now a tropical storm, continues to affect a large area of southern Texas and other parts of the South, the full impact on human health has yet to be determined. But it’s clear the flooding has caused a historical crisis in Houston and surrounding areas—and that nurses and other health professionals will be in great demand in the coming days, weeks, and months.

Short- and Long-Term Health Concerns

The short- and long-term health consequences people are facing as they escape rising water levels are detailed in the Washington Post. Although drowning is the most immediate and dangerous threat during a flood, those seeking safety are also endangered by sharp objects and even wild animals caught up in floodwaters. Mold and its impact on human health will be a concern in the coming weeks and months, as water-damaged buildings are reoccupied.

In the meantime, health authorities are worried about the spread of infectious diseases. As sewage contaminates the floodwaters and people crowd into shelters, they may be more susceptible to the development of skin, gastrointestinal, and respiratory infections. A prolonged lack of power, and thus air conditioning during the […]

Antibiotic Stewardship: Inherent to Good Nursing Practice

neutrophil interacting with two pink-colored multidrug-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria

Although most nurses are aware of the urgent problem of antibiotic overuse in hospitals, some may be unfamiliar with terms like “antibiotic stewardship.” This is partly because few nurses besides those working as infection control preventionists have had a formal role in stewardship programs, explain authors Rita D. Olans, Richard N. Olans, and David J. Witt in “Good Nursing Is Good Antibiotic Stewardship,” which appears in this month’s issue as a Special Feature. In the article, the authors detail how bedside nurses are vital to the success of these efforts.

What Is Antibiotic Stewardship?

Antibiotic stewardship programs offer a formal approach to addressing the current crisis, in which an increasing number of organisms are developing resistance to antimicrobial medications. In the absence of new drugs, stewardship programs have been established to improve the way currently available antibiotics are used in hospitals. These programs aim to:

  • optimize antibiotic therapy.
  • shorten the duration of use of broad-spectrum antibiotics.
  • reduce the number of adverse events.

According to the authors, “because nurses are not typically prescribers of antibiotics, they often don’t see themselves as participants in antimicrobial stewardship programs.” Yet, even though they may not know it, “staff nurses are already performing many critical antimicrobial stewardship functions.” For example, nursing practices directly relevant to antibiotic stewardship […]

2017-08-02T11:36:27+00:00 August 2nd, 2017|Nursing, Public health|1 Comment

Remembering an Air Force Nurse Killed in a Vietnam War Airlift

This Memorial Day weekend, as we remember all nurses who have served in the U.S. military, we spotlight one, Air Force Captain Mary Klinker, who died in a plane crash outside Saigon during the final days of the Vietnam War. She was the only member of the U.S. Air Force Nurse Corps—and the last military nurse—to die in that war.

Capt. Klinker had volunteered to work aboard the first flight of a mission, Operation Babylift, ordered by President Gerald Ford’s administration in the weeks before the fall of Saigon (now called Ho Chi Minh City). The aim was to move 2,000 South Vietnamese orphans and displaced children to the Philippines and then the United States for adoption.

In addition to Capt. Klinker, more than 300 passengers, including Air Force personnel, Defense Attaché Office employees, and about 250 children, filled the troop compartment and cargo area of the C-5 cargo plane on April 4, 1975. Children were placed together in seats and cardboard boxes. Soon after leaving the airport near Saigon, a substantial malfunction in the rear of the plane led to a forced landing in a field. About 130 passengers, many of whom were in the cargo area, died. Capt. Klinker was caring for children in that […]

2017-05-26T13:22:46+00:00 May 26th, 2017|Nursing, nursing history|0 Comments

Chemical Exposure: A Preventable Cause of Harm to Children’s Health

“Children are often exposed to. . . contaminants through their behavior—when they crawl on the floor or explore their environment by touching and tasting objects indiscriminately. In addition, because they are young, there is the potential for environmental exposures to negatively impact their health for a long time.”

Photo © Associated Press

Chemicals are ubiquitous

In “Project TENDR,” an article in this month’s issue of AJN, author Laura Anderko, PhD, RN, a professor at the Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies, discusses why children are particularly susceptible to environmental exposures to chemicals.

Aside from children’s vulnerability to chemical exposures as still developing individuals, Anderko observes that chemicals are also especially hazardous to children simply because they are everywhere: “ . . . in health care supplies and equipment, the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the cosmetics and personal products (such as shampoos, baby bottles, toys, and thousands of other consumer products) we use.”

Developmental harms of children’s exposure to chemicals

Anderko summarizes the concerns raised by a growing body of evidence linking environmental exposures and pediatric health outcomes:

“ . . . widespread exposure to toxic chemicals can increase the risk of cognitive, behavioral, and social impairment in […]