Providers pet pooches to help relieve stress

We’ve all heard of the therapeutic benefits that animals can provide to ailing patients, but what about stressed-out nurses?

Rush University Medical Center is testing this approach with a new program at the Chicago-based hospital. Each month, Rush hosts its own “Pet Pause” sessions, allowing dozens of nurses, doctors and other staffers time to play with dogs from a local shelter, the Associated Press reports. It’s fashioned after a similar program started a few years ago at the University of Pennsylvania.

Researchers at Rush are now attempting to study whether pet therapy is having an effect on reducing nurses’ stress. Studies in other workplaces have shown that cuddling with dogs during the workday has helped to lower stress hormone levels, blood pressure and heart rate, and early anecdotal evidence shows that it’s doing the same at the Chicago organization.

"I could feel the big sighs coming out of me when I was with the dogs, so I know that just coming to this has made my day less stressful," Benjamin Gonzales, a graduate student at Rush, told the AP. "This is amazing. I wish it could be every day."

6 ways that nurses can help bolster patient safety

Readers seem to love lists and stories that come in a numbered package, so here’s another one for you. According to NursingJobs.com, there are six things that RNs can do to help improve patient safety in their hospital.

Some of them are common sense, but that doesn’t mean that they’re happening on a regular basis in every institution. Here’s a quick rundown of the list compiled by writer Debra Wood, R.N. You can find further detail in the Nursing Jobs post.

  1. Support a culture of safety
  2. Communicate well
  3. Perform basic care and follow checklists
  4. Engage your patients
  5. Learn from incidents and near misses
  6. Get involved

Emergency department plays critical role in spotting elder abuse

Hospital emergency providers play a critical role in spotting and addressing the signs of elder abuse, according to two new studies recently published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Researchers note that less than 5 percent of such cases are reported to authorities, and delays in detecting and intervening can contribute to abuse-related morbidity and mortality. Abuse of elders is likely only going to increase in the coming years, given the aging population, researchers believe.

"Currently, most victims of elder abuse and neglect pass through our emergency departments with a life-threatening condition unidentified," lead author of one of the studies, Tony Rosen, M.D., of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, said in a statement. "A multidisciplinary, team-based approach supported by additional research and funding has the potential to improve the identification of elder abuse and improve the health and safety of our most vulnerable patients."

You can find links to both studies and a quick rundown in this press release.

More Nurse News

Here are a few more nurse-related items from the past week or two, in brief:

  • Geisinger has established a single, centralized, urgent heart-failure clinic at its main campus in central Pennsylvania. Using a well-coordinated network of nurse care managers and nurse navigators, the system has been able to drop ED visits and improve medication management.
  • Nightingale College is hosting a free webinar next week on how organizations are battling the nursing shortage in rural areas. Speaking of, here’s another report from the field on how the shortage is hitting northeast Ohio.
  • Similar to the elder abuse item, another study out this month found that about 1 in 5 seniors has been swindled financially. Those involved with the study believe that nurses and other care providers play a key role in spotting and reporting such financial abuse.