Recalling the Why of Health Care Reform

By Jacob Molyneux, AJN senior editor ACA ruling imageIn a brief analysis of the gradual rollout and effects so far of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) at the start of this year (“The ACA Continues to Run the Gauntlet”), I reviewed a few of the issues the law was intended to address when it was passed in 2010:

* the highest per capita expenditures of any health care system in the world

* consistently worse outcomes on measures such as infant mortality rate than most other developed nations

* increasing numbers of uninsured Americans each year, to over 50 million in 2009, the year before passage of the ACA

* unsustainable annual increases in health insurance premiums and drugs costs, leading to astonishing rates of medical bankruptcy

* a Medicare reimbursement process that rewarded the volume of care provided rather than the effectiveness of that care

These worsening issues had become impossible to ignore. No one believes the ACA is a perfect law; there were too many cooks in the kitchen for that. But it’s at least a good faith attempt to address real problems, to get a framework on the table that can potentially be improved upon. […]

Choosing Wisely: American Academy of Nursing Highlights Unnecessary Nursing Practices

The American Academy of Nursing (AAN) recently announced that it has joined the ABIM Choosing Wisely campaign with a list that focuses specifically on nursing interventions or practices that are not supported by evidence. The list is called Five Things Nurses and Patients Should Question. Here it is in short form—full explanations of the rationale for each item are available at the above link.

  1. Don’t automatically initiate continuous electronic fetal heart rate Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 11.10.10 AMmonitoring during labor for women without risk factors; consider intermittent auscultation first.
  2. Don’t let older adults lay in bed or only get up to a chair during their hospital stay.
  3. Don’t use physical restraints with an older hospitalized patient.
  4. Don’t wake the patient for routine care unless the patient’s condition or care specifically requires it.
  5. Don’t place or maintain a urinary catheter in a patient unless there is a specific indication to do so.

The Choosing Wisely initiative encourages health care provider organizations to create their own lists of tests and procedures that may be overused, unsafe, or duplicated elsewhere. Using these lists, providers can initiate conversation with their patients to help them choose the most necessary and evidence-based care for their individual situations. The lists are not meant to be proscriptive, and also address situations where the procedures may be appropriate. […]

Nursing, HIV/AIDS, Continuity of Care, Treatment Advances, and the ACA: The Essentials

As the Affordable Care Act takes effect, a timely overview in AJN of recent developments in screening, treatment, care, and demographics of the HIV epidemic

CascadeofCare The ‘cascade of care’ (from the AJN article)

The newly released March issue of Health Affairs is devoted to looking at the ways the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will affect Americans with HIV/AIDS and those who have recently been in jail. One crucial feature of the ACA is that it prevents insurance companies from refusing coverage to those with a number of preexisting conditions. If you have a preexisting condition and don’t get insurance through work, you know how important this is.

Unfortunately, a large majority of those with HIV and AIDS do not have private health insurance. One article in the March issue of Health Affairs draws attention to the plight of the 60,000 or so uninsured or low-income people with HIV or AIDS who will not receive health insurance coverage because their states are among those that have chosen to opt out of the ACA provision that expands Medicaid eligibility. This means many patients in these states may lack consistent care and reliable access to life-saving drugs.

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) improves patient quality of life and severely reduces expensive and debilitating or fatal long-term health problems in those with HIV/AIDS. As noted in AJN‘s March CE article, “Nursing […]

A Report from the ANA Safe Staffing Conference

Katheren Koehn, MA, RN, AJN editorial board member and executive director of MNORN (Minnesota Organization of Registered Nurses), reports from last week’s ANA conference on staffing held in Washington, DC.

staffiing Click image for source page at ANA staffing site.

The ANA Safe Staffing Conference ended on Saturday. There were almost 700 registered nurses from all over the country in attendance—nurses in management, direct care, and leadership—all gathered to try to discover new strategies for how to solve the most challenging issue in nursing: safe staffing.

Not a new issue. This has long been the most challenging issue for nursing. Teresa Stone, editor of Poems from the Heart of Nursing: Selected Poems from the American Journal of Nursing, told me that, as she was searching the archives of 113 years of AJN issues for her book, she found that staffing issues were a frequent theme. Today, as the work of nurses has become more complex, the need to create sustainable solutions to ensuring appropriate staffing is our most critical issue—hence the ANA Staffing Conference.

The body of evidence supporting the idea that appropriate nurse staffing makes a difference in saving patients’ lives has grown exponentially in the past 20 years. This evidence—paired with the new federal financial incentives for hospitals to improve patient outcomes and experiences—makes it seem inevitable that increasing nurse staffing would be the next […]

They’re Not Taking Away Our Puppies (And God Help Them If They Do)

By Jacob Molyneux, AJN senior editor/blog editor

I am amazed at the amount of time being wasted on the relatively mundane matter of health care exchanges. It seems we are now facing a government shutdown; there are creepy and misleading advertisements funded by conservative billionaires like the Koch brothers in order to scare people from signing up for insurance; some red states have actually enacted laws forbidding the health care navigators from helping people understand the new system and sign up for it, and many of these states have refused to create their own exchanges to help their citizens comply with the new law.

The ACA is a law. You can’t just ignore it if it doesn’t meet your personal preferences or political ideas. Given the heated rhetoric the Republicans are trotting out about it, you’d think the government was trying to take away our puppies, instead of implementing ideas originally floated by Republicans themselves to make life a bit easier for millions of Americans whose life decisions are unduly ruled by crazy health care billing practices, byzantine insurance regulations, discrimination against those who have chronic conditions, insanely varying pricing for simple tests, and the like. […]