RSSArchive for January, 2013

The flu season, and flu shot debate, persists

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that flu activity is decreasing in many parts of the country, 47 states are still reporting widespread geographic influenza activity. The southern and southeastern parts of the country, along with New England and the Midwest, are seeing a decline in the number of flu cases, while populations in the Southwest and Northwest have seen an increase in activity. According to the CDC, more than 130 million doses of the flu vaccine have been distributed as of January 18, and state that there are sufficient vaccinations for those who have not yet received the flu shot.

Along with the flu, the debate rages on as to whether healthcare workers should be required to receive the vaccination. Last month, eight nurses at an Indiana hospital were fired for refusing the mandatory flu shots, causing both positive and negative reactions from the public and the healthcare community.

In a poll this month at StrategiesforNurseManagers.com, we asked readers whether or not nurses at their organizations are required to receive a flu shot. The results were almost evenly matched, with 58% saying flu shots are mandatory and 42% responding that the flu vaccination is optional.

How do you feel about mandatory flu shots? Do you agree with firing nurses who refuse, or do you feel that it is a right to refuse the vaccine? Weigh in on the issue in our comments section!

Proposed 2014 National Patient Safety Goal on alarm management

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on the Patient Safety Monitor blog.

On January 15, the Joint Commission issued a proposed National Patient Safety Goal (NPSG) on management of alarms. Alarms are intended to avert caregivers of potential patient problems, but if they are not properly managed, they can compromise patient safety, and there is a general agreement that this is an important safety issue, according to the release.

This proposed NPSG focuses on managing alarms that have the most direct relationship to patient safety. As alarm management solutions are identified, this proposed NPSG would be updated to reflect best practices. A survey in the release contains 15 questions and respondents will be able to offer their comments directly to the Joint Commission. The survey is open until February 26, 2013.

View the proposed NPSG requirements.

Take the online survey.

Submit comments via online form.

Review finds quality of NP care equal to physician care

Care provided by nurse practitioners (NP) is comparable to care provided by physicians in terms of patient satisfaction, prescribing accuracy, preventative education, and time spent with patients, according to a literature review conducted by the National Governors Association. The group examined 22 articles and studies regarding scope-of-practice for NPs.

The review found that NPs could successfully manage chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity, and rated favorably in gaining patients’ compliance with recommendations and reductions in blood pressure and blood sugar. The report notes that patients often stated a preference for a care from a physician when it came to medical aspects, but had no preference with regards to nonmedical aspects of care.

NPs are currently allowed to practice and prescribe independently in 16 states and the District of Columbia, while NPs in the remaining 34 states must have some level of physician involvement in order to practice. The authors of the report note that expanding scope-of-practice laws for NPs could help states meet the increasing demands for primary care services. The debate over whether or not NPs should be allowed to practice independently has been ongoing for several years, with many physicians groups opposing NP independence. However, those states and healthcare systems that have expanded the role of NPs have reported positive results, according to the report.