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Celebrate National Nurses Week with HCPro!

As you may know, National Nurses Week begins on May 6 and goes through May 12. This is a week to promote the nursing profession and recognize the contributions of nurses at healthcare facilities across the country.  The American Nurses Association (ANA) picks a theme for Nurses Week each year, and this year’s theme is Nurses: Advocating, Leading, Caring.

In honor of Nurses Week, HCPro will be offering great deals and giveaways all week long. Be sure to check out the blog each day as we announce the day’s special offer.

What are your plans for Nurses Week? Leave us a comment and let us know how you’re going to celebrate!

Nursing uniforms: What do nurses think?

We recently posted about designated scrub colors to distinguish the various roles of hospital workers. The topic seems to have both supporters and opponents, with nurses falling on either side of the issue. HCPro’s OSHA Healthcare Advisor website featured the issue of color-coded uniforms as part of its weekly poll, and StrategiesforNurseManagers.com also polled readers about uniform colors.

As of press time, 464 people have participated in the OSHA poll, with 313 (67%) of respondents indicating that they believe nurses should be required to wear prescribed colors, and the remaining 151 (33%) of participants responding with the opposite opinion. The question has gained more than double the average response for OSHA’s weekly polls.

In the StrategiesforNurseManagers.com poll, readers were asked whether their organization requires nurses or other workers to wear prescribed colors or uniforms.  Poll participants could indicate whether or not they wore required uniforms and whether or not they agreed with the uniform requirements. Of the respondents, 60% have a uniform policy at their facility, while the remaining 40% do not. Opinions on whether or not facilities should determine the colors worn by staff members were again divided, with 59% of respondents agreeing to uniform colors and 41% disagreeing with required uniforms or scrub colors.

Although both polls indicate that a majority of those surveyed are in favor of uniforms, the number of those who oppose uniforms is significant. It may be helpful for policy-makers and staff leaders to poll their staff and determine whether a uniform policy would be accepted by the majority of the hospital’s employees or whether it would be met with opposition. Staff leaders can also explain the benefits of color-coded scrubs to staff members, and discuss the reasons for considering a required uniform.

Share your thoughts on uniform policies in the comments section below!

CAUTIs still a problem

Bit of a plug, but I think my visitors will find HCPro’s webcast on CAUTIs (catheter-associated urinary tract infections) extremely relevant, especially as CAUTIs cause 35% of all hospital-acquired infections every year, with 38,000 patient infections, and costing hospitals $400 million a year, according to an October 2011 National Quality Forum’s Partnership for Patients/ National Priorities Partnership webinar.

And don’t forget that The Joint Commission named CAUTIs a National Patient Safety Goal to be fully implemented by 2013. The Partnership for Patients also aims to reduce preventable CAUTIs by 50% by 2013.

So join nurse practitioner Mikel Gray, PhD, PNP, FNP, CUNP CCCN, FAANP, FAAN, and chief of infection prevention and 2012 APIC conference speaker Brian Koll, MD, FACP, FIDSA, for a live presentation of proven methods on CAUTI reduction, including how Beth Israel Medical Center reduced the number of CAUTIs by 83% using proven organization-wide catheter best practices such as evidence-based practice, staff education, daily need assessments, multidisciplinary teamwork, monitoring, and root-cause analysis. You’ll also get best practices to educate and train your entire staff.

Learn more here.

Just a note that now, you can buy the live audio and download the on demand version free.

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

Nurse uniforms: Should nurses be required to wear prescribed colors?

According to a recent news article, Allina Health System, a Minneapolis-based hospital group, will soon enforce color-coded uniform requirements so that patients and family members can easily identify nurses from other hospital workers. Starting May 1, all RNs must wear navy scrubs, a requirement that is causing protest among many nurses in the organization. Several nurses argue that brightly colored scrubs cheer up patients and that requiring a single color eliminates autonomy. The Minnesota Nurses Association filed a grievance over the policy.

In a hospital setting where most workers wear scrubs, including nurses and specialists as well receptionists, transporters, and housekeepers, color-coded uniforms are an easy way for patients to quickly identify the people who can best assist them. Proponents of one-color uniforms also argue that it boosts the professional images of RNs. Other solutions include large name badges that identify the roles and skills of hospital workers, or training workers to introduce themselves clearly upon meeting and assisting patients.

What do you think? Do you think color-coded uniforms are helpful, or do you think it doesn’t make much difference? Do you know of any alternatives for easy identification by patients and family members?

Live webcast on staffing costs, featuring Pamela Hunt, BS, MSN, RN

Join Pamela Hunt, BS, MSN, RN, vice president of patient services and chief nursing executive at The Indiana Heart Hospital in Indianapolis, on May 9, 2012, 1:00-2:30 (Eastern), for a live, 90-minute webcast, Creative Ways to Trim Nurse Staffing Costs: Answers to the Six Most Pressing Concerns for Any Nurse Leader .  This webcast features expert advice from the coauthor of The Nurse Leader’s Guide to Business Skills: Strategies for Optimizing Financial Performance, and will focus on practical solutions to the financial challenges nurse managers and leaders frequently face.

During the presentation, Hunt will use real-life examples to explain practical solutions for meeting productivity targets, getting the most from nurse labor budgets, and ensuring high-quality patient care.  She will discuss important considerations for nurse leaders regarding employee satisfaction and staffing concerns. The webcast will conclude with a live question and answer session.

Hunt is an authority on the challenges of nursing leadership and business plan development. Her articles have been published in nationally recognized journals and she has lectured on the national and international levels.

Please visit www.hcmarketplace.comto learn more about this program.

Men in nursing remain a rare breed

An article in The New York Times last month reported an apparent trend of men who have lost jobs at factories, warehouses, and manufacturing plants entering the nursing profession, where their services are in high demand. Many of the men featured in the piece had been laid off from their former positions as autoworkers or factory employees and decided to make a career change by returning to school and training to become nurses. The article noted that men are usually a rarity in nursing but their numbers have been steadily increasing over the years.

Following the Times article, a poll on StrategiesforNurseManagers.com asked nurses to estimate the percentage of men on their nursing staffs. More than two-thirds of respondents (76%) indicate that less than 10% of their staffs consist of men. Of the remaining responses, 18% replied that 10%-25% of their staff includes men, and 5% responded that 25%-50% of their staff consists of men. Only 1% of respondents estimate that more than half of the nurses in their facility are male.

Nursing is a profession still very much dominated by women, but as The New York Times article indicates, men are a valuable addition to any nursing staff. One of the men interviewed for the article noted that two of his friends, both female nurses, encouraged him to enter their profession, while another man said he needed to overcome his own biases against men in nursing before becoming a nurse.

Are there many (or any) men among the members of your nursing staff? How do you encourage both male and female applicants to open positions on your staff? Share your thoughts and advice in the comments section!

Does the solution to the nursing shortage start with education?

There has been a lot of discussion in recent months of a looming nursing shortage caused by the anticipated retirement of Baby Boomer nurses and an increase in demand for RNs. Karen Daley, president of the American Nurses Association, recently appealed to a congressional committee to request $251 million in funding for workforce development and nursing education. Daley noted in her testimony that although the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 26% growth in the number of practicing nurses by 2020, a retiring nursing workforce and an aging population will create a need for more than 1 million nurses. Without the funding to train and aid the next generation of nursing students, the shortage is inevitable, according to Daley.

Support from legislators could be crucial in minimizing the nursing gap, particularly when it comes to funding for educational programs. Take, for example, the state of California, which saw its overall number of nurse practitioners double between the years 2004 and 2008 and likewise saw enormous growth in the number of RNs employed in nursing following legislation for minimum nurse staffing ratios. The number of educational programs in California also increased, but the demand for nursing education still exceeded the available spots. A survey by the California HealthCare Foundation found that insufficient funding was one of the main barriers to program expansion.

If the findings in California are any indication, it seems that Daley is correct in stating that an increase in funding for nursing education is the place to start when assessing the anticipated nursing shortage. Creating more programs to meet the demand for nursing education will lead to an increase in the number of nurses entering the workforce, minimizing the gap caused by retiring nurses and growing healthcare demands.

What do you think? Will increasing the number of educational programs address the issue of the nursing shortage, or do you feel there are more effective initiatives to be explored? Let us know in the comments section below!

Transparency…are we there yet?

Apparently not. Public reporting of surgical site infections is required in only eight states. That fact was brought to light by a new Johns Hopkins University report, which calls for more reporting. Lead author of the report, Martin Makary, MD, notes that patients still have little information when choosing hospitals.

Personally, I think the bigger issue is that public reporting gives hospitals, from the top down, a real push to do better. I think Makary does too:

“Nothing motivates hospitals to improve quality and listen to their front line staff like public reporting,” he says. “In order for the consumer to interpret publicly reported SSI rates, it is imperative that the data be collected and reported in a standardized manner,” he and his co-authors wrote.

I would have to agree. Surgical site infections not only result in 8,000 deaths a year in the U.S., they occur in 4% to 25% of patients who undergo major surgical procedures, and their cost to the healthcare system is about $10 billion annually (these stats are mentioned in the report and come from other studies).

Makary calls out state hospital associations for not supporting public reporting. What do you think? Is public reporting the way to change hospital culture?

Source: HealthLeaders Media

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

Board membership and the role of nurses in healthcare decision making

Nurses hold leadership roles in healthcare organizations, yet nurses are not perceived as leaders in healthcare decision making, according to an article in the March issue of American Journal of Nursing (AJN). The article investigates the lack of nurse representation on hospital boards, drawing data from a 2010 American Hospital Association survey of more than 1,000 hospital boards that found that only 6% of board members were nurses, compared to a 20% board membership comprised of physicians. The Institute of Medicine urged healthcare decision makers to include nursing representation on boards and management teams in its report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, but nurses must also take initiative in developing their own skills and acquiring the competencies necessary for leadership, according to the AJN article.

What are some of the essential capabilities of board members? According to the article, nurses already possess several: personal skills, professionalism, and collaboration. Other qualities, such as an understanding of business, finance, and human resources, can be developed over time with the help of continuing education. The article also profiles several nurses who serve as board members and who share the personal traits and professional competencies that are crucial to their success.

As a nurse leader, it is important for you to establish not only your capability in managing your staff, but also your ability to contribute to the development of your organization and the services it provides. Continue to demonstrate and enhance the skills and knowledge you bring to the board, and encourage your fellow nurses to do the same. Serving as a member of the board can be a rewarding and instructive experience.

Share your thoughts: Does your board have sufficient nurse representation? Would you want to take on a more active role in leadership and decision making as a member of the board? Leave a comment below!

Room for improvement remains in preventing sharps injuries

Although there has been substantial progress in reducing needlestick injuries in U.S. healthcare settings since the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act (NSPA) of 2000, there is still room for improvement, according to a statement released by the International Healthcare Worker Safety Center and endorsed by the American Nurses Association. Data collected from both the EPINet Sharps Injury Surveillance research group in Virginia and the Massachusetts Sharps Injury Surveillance System in recent years shows that nurses sustain approximately 35% of total sharps injuries, while workers such as housekeepers, administrative staff, and clinicians sustain 30% of sharps injuries. The most common settings for injuries are patient rooms and surgical settings, according to the statement.

The statement also identifies five key areas for progress in reducing sharps injuries in healthcare workers: improving sharps safety in surgical settings, understanding and reducing exposure risks in non-hospital settings such as clinics and home healthcare, involving frontline healthcare workers in the selection of safety devices, addressing gaps in safety devices, and enhancing education and training. Each improvement area includes statistical information and recommendations for action.

This statement serves as a pertinent reminder that laws alone cannot guarantee a safe and injury-free work environment. You must continue to educate your staff on safe practices when using and disposing of needles, and remind them of the hazards involved with sharps injuries, including exposure to bloodborne viruses. You must also act as an advocate for the selection of safer devices to further prevent the risk of injury; you and the members of your staff should have be able to voice opinions on which sharp devices best suit your needs.

Weigh in below: what has your organization done to reduce rates of needlestick injuries? How do you work to establish a culture of safety with regard to sharps injuries?