Nurses and Patient Safety: Parallel Histories

Photo from AJN archives.

I’m especially pleased that one of the CE articles in the February issue focuses on nursing’s role in creating a safe environment for patients: “Nursing’s Evolving Role in Patient Safety.” And in full disclosure, I was excited to see that the authors used the AJN archives to chronicle how nursing addressed (or didn’t address) safety issues around patient care.

From the earliest days of nursing through to the current complex systems in which we practice, nurses have been the health professionals responsible for ensuring safe passage of patients through the health care system. From Nightingale’s criteria for creating a healing environment to the “5 rights of medication administration,” patients rely on nurses to act as sentinels.

The authors reviewed 1,086 AJN articles from 1900 to 2015 and conducted a content analysis to identify patient safety themes. Aside from uncovering many fascinating (and sometimes alarming!) details of former health care practices, the authors drew this general conclusion:

“Emphasis on patient safety increased as patient care became more complex. As nurses developed a professional identity, they often put a spotlight on safety concerns and solutions.”

Here’s a quote from a nurse who wrote in 1908 about nurses’ duties: […]

Metabolic Syndrome: Lifestyle Factors and Prevention

Metabolic syndrome: one-third of U.S. adults.

Cycling Mother and Daughter, Netherlands/via Wikimedia CommonsConversations about health—whether between neighbors or between clinicians and patients—often revolve around weight problems, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels. Taken together, these are the cardiovascular risk factors referred to as metabolic syndrome.

In the United States, more than one-third of all adults have metabolic syndrome. This is an astonishing figure, especially because these risk factors can be modified.

What keeps some who are obese or overweight ‘metabolically healthy’?

In recent years, researchers have learned that some people who are overweight or obese do not demonstrate the other risk factors that are part of metabolic syndrome, and therefore these people have a lower-than-expected risk of cardiovascular disease. In a study reported in this month’s AJN (“Examining the Links Between Lifestyle Factors and Metabolic Syndrome“), a group of Taiwanese nurse researchers set out to learn whether there might be lifestyle factors that keep this subgroup of people “metabolically healthy,” protecting them from the other cardiovascular risk factors that usually come with extra weight.

Lifestyle factors associated with prevention.

Dr. Shu-Hung Chang and colleagues performed community-based physical exams on more than 700 people in northern Taiwan and questioned them about lifestyle factors including smoking, drinking, exercise, and the foods they ate. The researchers found that overweight and obese people who quit smoking, exercised, […]

Getting It Right: Putting the ‘QI’ in Quality Improvement Reports

Towards a Safer Health System

Photo of AJN editor-in-chief Shawn KennedyEver since the famous report To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System was issued by the Institute of Medicine (now the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine) in 1999, health care institutions have been pushed towards reducing errors and increasing safety.

Changes have been spurred by accrediting and government organizations like the Joint Commission and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, by independent and professional initiatives like the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and the Magnet Recognition Program, and by consumer advocacy groups like the The Leapfrog Group and the National Patient Safety Foundation.

Nursing Education and Quality Improvement

Nursing, as the largest department in hospitals and the one tasked with shepherding patients through the system, is a key player in any system redesign and many nursing departments are playing an active role in improving the safety and quality of care.

Nursing education has also embraced the QI movement, adopting the Quality and Safety in Nursing (QSEN) program in many curriculums and also making it a hallmark of its doctor of nursing practice (DNP) programs. Developing and implementing QI projects is frequently a requirement for completing these programs. […]

Injurious Falls in the Hospital Setting

by Maureen Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

PatOriginal.00000446-201609000-00022.FF1ient falls are, unfortunately, a frequent occurrence in hospitals and the consequences can vary from none to serious life-threatening injuries. There has been a lot of attention focused on identifying those at high risk for falls and effective prevention measures, but according to our September CE feature, there’s been little attention focused on falls that cause injuries. In this original research study, Predicting Injurious Falls in the Hospital Setting: Implications for Practice, Amy Hester and colleagues at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences conducted a retrospective review of medical records to see if they could pinpoint which patient factors were associated with falls with injuries. Their results may surprise you.

Here’s the abstract:

Background: Despite years of research and increasingly evidence-based practice, falls continue to be the most commonly reported adverse events experienced by hospitalized adults. Yet a majority of the relevant research has focused on predicting and preventing falls in general; there has been little focus on injurious falls.

Purpose: The purpose of this retrospective study was to determine which patient factors are associated with injurious falls in hospitalized adults.

Methods: The study site’s adverse event reporting database was used to identify 1,369 patients who fell between January 1, 2006, and October 31, 2013. Of these, 381 (27.8%) subjects suffered injurious falls. Variables of interest included age, sex, fall history, use of diuretics, use of central nervous system medications, cognitive impairment, primary discharge diagnoses, abnormal laboratory values, impaired mobility, and […]

August 31st, 2016|Nursing, nursing research|0 Comments

AJN in July: Opioids and Chronic Pain, Moral Distress, Prediabetes, More

CE Feature: Appropriate Use of Opioids in Managing Chronic Pain.”

Unintentional death related to prescription opioids has been identified as a public health crisis, owing in part to such factors as insufficient professional training and medication overprescription, misuse, and diversion. The authors discuss current best practices for prescribing opioids for chronic pain, emphasizing patient assessment and essential patient teaching points regarding safe medication use, storage, and disposal.

CE Feature: “Moral Distress: A Catalyst in Building Moral Resilience.”

Moral distress is a pervasive problem in nursing: an inability to act in alignment with one’s moral values is detrimental not only to the nurse’s well-being but also to patient care and clinical practice as a whole. Moral distress has typically been characterized in terms of powerlessness and victimization. This article offers an alternate view: ethically complex situations and experiences of moral distress can become opportunities for growth, empowerment, and increased moral resilience.
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