More victories for nurses

Nurses just scored a couple of key victories in their long-running battle over independence and scope of practice.

The Washington Post reports that just recently, West Virginia and Florida have passed legislation, allowing advanced-practice nurses to use more of the skills from their training without the supervision of physicians. That includes administering a wider range of care and prescribing most drugs without a physician’s blessing.

Nurses have been fighting for decades to practice to the top of their license, the Post reports, with certain groups such as the American Medical Association arguing that physician-led teams lead to better integration and coordination. But in places such as West Virginia, with the Affordable Care Act expanding access, the need for more clinicians has been too great to ignore this issue, especially in rural areas.

“Who’s going to provide the care for that? If there’s nowhere for them to take the card and get the care, it’s not helpful,” Beth Baldwin, president of the West Virginia Nurses Association, told the newspaper. “We in no way feel that we’ll be replacing physicians. But physicians can be focusing on the people they need to see.”

Many states have also been moving in this direction, with 21 of them, plus the District of Columbia, now allowing full-practice authority to nurses. This wasn’t a complete slam-dunk for West Virginia nurses, however. The state has been ravaged by the opioid epidemic and, for fear of releasing more of these drugs into the public, the final version of the bill does not allow nurses to dispense Schedule II substances.

Are nurses getting the needed support after making fatal mistakes?

The website Vox published an interesting in-depth piece last week on the “second victim crisis” in health care, and how nurses can cope following a fatal mistake.

The writer leads off with the story of Kim Hiatt, a nurse of 24 years who gave a frail infant a fatal dose of medication and subsequently killed herself because of the grief. Hiatt's is not an isolated case, as Vox notes that about 66 percent of clinicians experienced “difficulty concentrating” and “extreme sadness” following such incidents. Some 68 percent of respondents to one survey said they didn’t receive institutional support following a mistake that harmed a patient.

Vox goes on to detail how hospitals are responding to this crisis. About a dozen or so have set up hotlines to help clinicians cope, including the University of Missouri, one of the first to do so in the nation.

Catholic Health Initiatives leader lauded for lifetime achievement

Kathleen Sanford, R.N. — senior vice president and chief nursing officer at Catholic Health Initiatives — is being honored as one of the top nurse execs in the field later this month.

The American Organization of Nurse Executives announced last week that it’s bestowing its lifetime achievement award on the longtime nurse leader. Sanford’s long list of accomplishments includes publishing more than 100 articles and two management books, along with serving on the boards of both the American Hospital Association and Washington State Hospital Association. The 35-year vet is also a former Army caregiver, previously retiring as chief nurse of the Washington Army National Guard.

Sanford will receive the award next week during a presentation ceremony at AONE’s annual meeting in Fort Worth, Texas.

Nurses’ least favorite phrases

There’s a lively discussion on the social media site about the phrases that most grind the gears of RNs.

One respondent, “nynursey,” particularly disdains when people say, “I’ll go get your nurse,” or “I’ll have your nurse take care of it.” The poster feels such utterances are part of the age-old concept that nurses can do everyone else’s job, but not all staff can do a nurses’ job. Why should these skilled clinicians waste time with ancillary tasks when they should be focused on caring for a patient?

“I do realize that as an RN I represent the center of the patient's entire care experience, but I refute the idea that the nurse ought to be preoccupied with obtaining ginger ales, extra pillows, changing the television station, or obtaining a telephone. As you're expecting me to carry out these menial, easily delegated tasks, I am often in the middle of more serious issues such as stabilizing a blood pressure, inserting a new IV, re-assessing a patient that has fallen, or being present with a physician to discuss end-of-life issues,” nynursey writes.

What are your least favorite phrases to hear as a nurse? Do you agree with nynursey? Email me, or find me on Twitter.

Rapid fire

Here are a few more nurse-related news items from the past week, in rapid fashion: