Professional Update: Nurse H1N1 protection

October 1, 2009

CA and NY nurses seek H1N1 protection; nurse-doctor teamwork shown to save money; formation of national nursing union faces obstacles; nurses' Internet use studied

NURSE UNIONS PUSH H1N1 PROTECTION


NURSES IN CALIFORNIA AND NEW YORK

are among those pushing for better protections against the H1N1 influenza. In an open letter to the state commissioner of health, the New York State Nurses Association recently called for N95 respirators to be made mandatory at all hospitals in the state after the Institute of Medicine determined they were up to 12 times more effective than surgical masks against airborne H1N1 germs, according to a

New York Daily News

article. And the California Nurses Association is challenging the practice at many hospitals of reusing respirators that nurses and other medical staff wear when treating patients who have H1N1, according to a recent article in

The Sacramento Bee

. Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations allow for respirators to be reused when there is a shortage, as long as the device has not been soiled or damaged.

REPORT: TEAMWORK SAVES MONEY


A NEW REPORT SHOWS THAT

teamwork between nurses and physicians to deliver “proactive, evidence-based, comprehensive healthcare” to patients with chronic conditions makes a measurable difference in a facility’s bottom line. More than 400 patients enrolled in a program called Guided Care in eight practices around Baltimore and Washington averaged 24% fewer hospital days, 37% fewer days in nursing homes, and 15% fewer emergency department visits, according to a report published in the August 2009 issue of the

American Journal of Managed Care

. Based on current Medicare rates, the program saved $1,364 per patient, or about $75,000 per nurse. The program, administered by practices affiliated with Kaiser Permanente, Johns Hopkins Community Physicians, and Medstar Physician Partners, assigns each nurse to two to five physicians, providing clinical services ranging from home assessments to coordination of all medical services for the patient.

NATIONAL NURSING UNION PROPOSED


THREE NURSING UNIONS ARE

considering banding together to form a nationwide “super union” for RNs, but some dissent in one of the unions may jeopardize the deal, according to a recent article in the

San Francisco Business Times

. The California Nurses Association (CNA) voted unanimously September 10 to join the proposed union, and is waiting for the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) and the United American Nurses (UAN) to vote on the matter. The article quotes Barbara Norton, RN, an MNA regional director, as saying the “overwhelming majority” of the nurses she’d spoken to were against joining a national union. CNA officials say large delegations from MNA and UAN have reaffirmed their commitment to creating the new union. A founding conference for the National Nurses United has been scheduled for December 7-8 in Scottsdale, AZ, presuming all three unions agree to join.

NURSES’ INTERNET USE STUDIED


MANY NURSES ADVISE PATIENTS

to use health Web sites, and the average nurse spends about eight hours a week online for professional purposes, about the same as physicians, according to a recent study. The Taking the Pulse Nurses v9.0 study from healthcare research company Manhattan Research LLC found about three of four nurses recommend sites to patients, as reported by the site ePharmaceuticals. The survey also found that almost all nurses spend time online between patient consultations, and more than 80% have visited a pharmaceutical, biotech, or device company Web site in the last year.