Easing the Pain of Staff Shortages

The results of an online poll of 475 U.S. health care quality professionals released in May by ASQ reveal concerns that staffing shortages will lead to more fragmented and uncoordinated care. Of most concern were shortages of primary care physicians, nurses and nursing assistants, and laboratory professionals. Respondents said providers can mitigate quality issues associated with the shortages if they: create fast-track units to assess and treat patients with less serious needs in a timely manner, freeing emergency department staff to focus on urgent cases; implement IT systems; implement checklists in the ED and other departments; establish more care teams of doctors, nurses, physician assistants and disease educators; and hire scribes to trail doctors and take detailed notes for the electronic medical record. Visit www.asq.org.

Building Better Care Teams

Two reports released in May by six national health profession associations and three private foundations recommend ways to promote a team approach to patient care. Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice was produced by the Interprofessional Education Collaborative. Among other things, it recommends that future health professionals be able to: provide patient-centered care; show respect for cultural differences among team members; and communicate to patients and others the value of a team approach. Team-Based Competencies: Building a Shared Foundation for Education and Clinical Practice outlines strategies to implement the IPEC recommendations, including: launch an educational campaign that shows the link between collaborative health care teams and high-quality, cost-sensitive care; prepare faculty to teach students how to work in a team; develop metrics for collaborative care; and forge partnerships with the academic, provider and policymaking communities to advance interprofessional education.—Visit https://www.aamc.org/newsroom/newsreleases/2011/187064/ipec.html.

The Benefits of Small, Doc-Nurse Teams

Having physicians and nurses work in small, unit-based teams improves communication and can improve patient outcomes, according to a study in the May issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. As reported in MedPage Today, researchers found that "unit-based reorganization of patient care teams increased physicians' and nurses' abilities to identify key team members and to interact face-to-face. The intervention also improved both groups' perceptions that their patient care concerns were addressed."—Visit http://www.medpagetoday.com/HospitalBasedMedicine/Hospitalists/26242.