RSSArchive for January, 2012

Flu vaccinations among nursing units

Despite a relatively mild flu season so far in 2011-2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains its recommendation that anyone older than six months should receive a flu vaccine, particularly those at high risk for developing serious complications from the flu. These high-risk individuals include pregnant women, children under the age of five, adults over the age of 50, anyone with chronic medical conditions, and people who live with or care for high-risk individuals, such as healthcare workers.

In a recent poll on, 52% of respondents indicated that more than 90% of their units’ nurses had received a seasonal flu shot, and 18% reported that 70%-89% of staff nurses were vaccinated.

Only 5% of respondents replied that less than half of their units’ nurses have received flu vaccines.

Does your hospital have a policy regarding flu shots? Are most of your nurses vaccinated? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

How to retain nurses by focusing on the reasons they entered the profession

Recognizing and building upon nurses’ dedication to their line of work could be essential to improving nurse retention rates. A survey of 900 nurses revealed that the single common variable reported by nurses from all age groups regarding why they chose nursing was a commitment to healing and an attachment to the nursing profession. As a nurse leader, it is important to acknowledge the reasons your staff chose to pursue a career in nursing and reinforce those choices.

Nurses in the 29 to 43 age range (Generation X) also indicated that the quality of their relationships with their supervisors was a factor in considering whether or not to continue nursing. Nurse leaders can address these reasons by working on good relationships with nursing staff. These efforts could include monthly or quarterly check-ins rather than annual reviews, open and frequent communication with all members of the staff, and encouraging all staff to share thoughts and ideas to address issues or concerns.

Additional variables identified by the oldest group of nurses (Baby Boomers) surveyed included work-family conflict, the quality of relationships with colleagues, and being allowed to decide how and when to carry out tasks. Try reviewing policies and obtaining feedback from staff about potential changes to improve work-family balance. Encourage nurses to alert you to any issues between colleagues and address those concerns promptly. Improving the quality of the work environment and fostering positive relationships between nurses could lead to better retention rates and a rewarding career for staff.

Medical News Today recently reported on the findings of the study, in which Australian researchers gathered data from 900 anonymous surveys completed by nurses at seven private hospitals. Though researchers noted a need for additional research, they emphasized the importance of identifying the variables that inspire individuals to continue nursing and addressing each of those variables to improve retention rates.

How do you address the variables discussed here? Have your nurses indicated any additional factors that influence them to continue nursing? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Three creative ways to cut nurse labor costs

In previous posts on the Leaders’ Lounge we have featured advice from nursing finance and budgeting expert Pamela Hunt, MSN, RN, co-author of the book Nurse Leader’s Guide to Business Skill: Strategies for Optimizing Financial Performance.

Recently Pam provided her expert opinion on using supplemental labor effectively in an article by HealthLeaders Media. In the article, Hunt recommends using traveling or per diem nurses  to handle medical leaves, seasonal volume increases, or large training initiatives, rather than depending on agency nurses to cover daily demands. Hunt’s suggestion, and the article in its entirety, is pertinent for anyone seeking to reduce nurse staffing costs.

To read the full article, “3 Creative Ways to Cut Nurse Labor Costs,” click here.


HCPro Nursing Catalogue for 2012 now available online

HCPro’s 2012 catalogue for nurse leaders and staff development professionals can now be accessed online. The catalogue features information on new releases, program builders, and other educational resources.  As always, we appreciate your thoughts and feedback on our products, so please do not hesitate to comment below and let us know what you think.

The HCPro Nursing Catalogue for 2012 can be found at

Nurse donates kidney to patient

Medical News Today reports that Allison Batson, a nurse at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, donated one of her kidneys to a patient in need.  Clay Taber was diagnosed with Goodpasture’s syndrome, a disorder that causes a patient’s immune system to attack the lungs and kidneys, and was suffering complete kidney failure. Taber was admitted to the transplant unit at Emory University Hospital and told that it could take up to five years to find a suitable donor organ.

Batson learned of Taber’s diagnosis and discovered that none of his relatives, including his mother, qualified as kidney donors. Batson said she felt a connection with Taber and ultimately came forward as an organ donor, despite only knowing Taber for a few weeks.

When asked why she chose to put herself at risk for a stranger, she responded “because I can … here was this young man in front of me who needs help—today, and I am in a position to help him—today.” Taber has commented that he will reserve a special dance for Batson at his wedding.

Source: Medical News Today

You can’t improve without knowing what’s wrong

In the healthcare quality improvement field, there has been much talk about reporting errors, about a just culture, about using occurrence reporting data to implement quality improvement initiatives, and sharing results with staff. But it seems, according the latest Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report that many of you have probably seen, that hospitals aren’t cutting it.

In summary, the report concludes:
Hospital incident reporting systems captured only an estimated 14 percent of the patient harm events experienced by Medicare beneficiaries. Hospital administrators classified the remaining events (86 percent) as either events that staff did not perceive as reportable (61 percent) or as events that staff commonly report but did not report in this case (25 percent).

So, the majority of events go unreported because staff didn’t think the event qualified for the reporting system.

A list of common events is coming (via AHRQ and CMS), and it’s sure to be helpful. Until then, hospitals should work on what Occurrence Reporting: Building a Robust Problem Identification and Resolution Process author Ken Rohde calls this a reporting threshold.

“If your staff question whether they should report something, they are asking themselves a threshold question,” says Rohde. He advises the threshold to be either low or nonexistent.

“A good way to communicate a lower threshold is to tell staff: ‘If it was important enough for you to think about it or if it disrupted your day, then report it,'” says Rohde.

Though a higher reporting volume may require a more efficient screening process, more information about adverse events is usually better.

Here’s a quick tip sheet from Rohde’s best-selling book for improving your error reporting in your system: (starred, at the bottom, free for download).

First published on Patient Safety Monitor Blog.

Top 10 most read blogs posts from 2011

Here’s a rundown of the most-read posts from 2011:

1. Analyzing nurse staffing: Understanding FTEs

Staffing: what a problem! Developing and monitoring the staffing budget is one of the most, if not the most, difficult responsibilities of the nurse leader. Labor consumes the majority of the financial resources of the organization. Therefore, everyone must act responsibly in order to ensure the financial health of the organization. But how do you know how many staff you need on your position control in order to meet the needs of the department (not too many, and not too few)? That is a $100,000 question!

2. Helping new graduate nurses over transition shock: Part 1: The “doing” stage

It’s the time of year when hospitals are welcoming new graduate nurses to their units and nurse managers are preparing to help these new nurses make the difficult transition from nursing school to nursing practice.

Kendra Varner, MSN, RN, nurse residency program coordinator for the Kettering Health Network in Dayton, OH, wrote in the book Nurse Residency Program Builder, that new nurses go through many experiences as they transition to become competent nurses. In the first part of a three part series, Varner describes the first stage.

3. Best practices for filling out incident reports

You and your staff may think that incident reports are more trouble than they are worth-but think again.

We work in high-stress, fast-paced environments. It is your responsibility as a member of the nursing management team to understand not only the importance of the incident report, but also how to ensure that your staff completes them and how to investigate incidents to avoid any further occurrences. Your investigation will also provide possible defense if during your investigation you identify a system failure and take the necessary corrective action(s). [more]