The healthcare industry is in a constant state of flux. But while technologies are rapidly changing, the industry is still cast in monochrome with little racial or gender diversity. There are definitely large societal issues at root – like the massive expense of becoming a doctor and lack of adequate STEM education in many inner-city elementary schools – that will take a generation to solve. But while these massive gaps remain, it is often hard to see incremental progress.
Recently, I found a study that gave me a small glimmer of hope that progress is happening. According to Professional Diversity Network, recruiters and HR professionals accelerated their search for diverse talent in healthcare in January. Specifically, the Professional Diversity Network’s Diversity Jobs Index, which tracks the demand for diverse talent across sectors, jumped 11 percent from December 2014 in healthcare.
The Professional Diversity Network pointed to a few factors that could have attributed to the change. For example, the study suggests that many more small clinics across the country, particularly in urban settings, have increased their workforces.
While the Professional Diversity Network pointed to trends that could be the cause, I believe this is evidence that diversity programs like the Institute for Diversity, Ms. Tech and Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy are finally beginning to have an impact not just on awareness, but also on behaviors.
Diversity programs are crucial because they not only acknowledge that problems exist, but they create communities to offer training and support to help women, minorities, and other under-acknowledged groups succeed. For example, IHSCA prepares inner city high school students for a career in healthcare with tutoring and mentorship programs.
This is great news not only for the women, minorities, veterans or disabled professionals being employed, but also for the healthcare industry as a whole. Healthcare professionals service every ethnic group and gender, so the more that doctors and nurses can empathize and understand their patients, the better care they will give. In part, that empathy and understanding relies on working in a diverse environment.
So to answer the question I posed in the headline: yes we should get our hopes up. Healthcare executives are in fact beginning to value and invest in diversity, which is a sign of positive change. There is still a long way to go, and who knows if there will ever be an all minority board of a hospital, but we’re heading in the right direction.
By Barbara Diamond
Now tell us: Is this a viral-worthy video or what?!
Everyone loves it when seniors prove that you’re never too old to have fun. The video below is brand new on YouTube, but I have no doubt it will soon be seen by millions of people.
I couldn’t stop smiling as I watched this clip, which features the residents of Belvedere of Westlake’s Assisted Living Facility fighting for their right to party. With a hilarious parody of The Beastie Boys’ classic song, “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” — an anthem in both the rap and rock worlds — the Cleveland, OH nursing home residents are here to prove that age is but a number, and they certainly still know how to rock. From slingin’ back bottles of booze and gambling, to rocking out on the guitar and stripping down to their skivvies, these seniors are certainly doing it their way. LOL!
Not only do they still have a great sense of humor and tons of energy, but it’s clear that these folks are truly young at heart. My favorite part is at the 1:53 mark. I won’t give it away, but I will say this… You go, Granny!
If this video made you smile, please SHARE it with your friends on Facebook!
If you ever needed any evidence that nurses care vastly about every single patient they encounter, this is it.
A video posted last week on Facebook shows a nurse reacting as one of her patients stands up for the first time in 11 days.
The story as, posted by Texas mom Becky Miller:
“Our daughter, Bailey, had complete paralysis from the waist down for 11 days with no explanation as to why. This video is one of her favorite nurses coming onto her shift and not knowing that Bailey had started walking this day.”
The nurse immediately bursts into tears upon seeing Bailey, screaming, “Thank you, Lord.”
Miller said Bailey had no feeling or movement in her legs the day before. Doctors did not know what caused Bailey to lose feeling in her legs.
Commenters on Reddit immediately took the opportunity to commend nurses, and all of the work and long hours they put in daily.
“Nurses are great people,” one commenter wrote. “You’d have to be humanitarian to be a nurse.”
By ANDREW POLLACK
A Silicon Valley start-up with some big-name backers is threatening to upend genetic screening for breast and ovarian cancer by offering a test on a sample of saliva that is so inexpensiv e that most women could get it.
At the same time, the nation’s two largest clinical laboratories, Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, normally bitter rivals, are joining with French researchers to pool their data to better interpret mutations in the two main breast cancer risk genes, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Other companies and laboratories are being invited to join the effort, called BRCA Share.
The announcements being made on Tuesday, although coincidental in their timing, speak to the surge in competition in genetic risk screening for cancer since 2013, when the Supreme Court invalidated the gene patents that gave Myriad Genetics a monopoly on BRCA testing.
The field has also been propelled by the actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie, who has a BRCA1 mutation and has written about her own decision to have her breasts, ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to sharply reduce her risk of developing cancer.
But the issue of who should be tested remains controversial. The effort of the start-up, Color Genomics, to “democratize access to genetic testing,” in the words of the chief executive, Elad Gil, is generating concern among some experts.
The company plans to charge $249 for an analysis of BRCA1 and BRCA2, plus 17 other cancer-risk genes. That is one tenth the price of many tests now on the market.
Testing of the BRCA genes has generally been limited by medical guidelines to women who already have cancer or those with a family history of breast or ovarian cancers. Insurers generally have not paid for BRCA tests for other women, and some insurers are not paying at all for a newer type of screening known as a panel test that analyzes from 10 to 40 genes at once.
Dr. Gil of Color said his company’s test would be inexpensive enough for women to pay out of pocket, so that neither the woman nor Color will have to deal with insurance companies. He said the company was starting a program to provide free testing to women who cannot afford its test.
One of the company’s unpaid advisers is Mary-Claire King, the University of Washington geneticist whose work led to the discovery of the BRCA1 gene. Dr. King last year publicly called for testing to be offered to all American women 30 and older.
She said that half the women with dangerous mutations would not qualify for testing under current guidelines, in part because many inherit the mutation from their fathers rather than their mothers and a family history of breast or ovarian cancer might not be evident.
But other experts say that fewer women in the expanded group would be found to have dangerous mutations, raising the overall cost of testing per cancer case prevented. Moreover, expanded testing could result in many more women being told they have mutations that cannot be classified as either dangerous or benign, leaving women in a state of limbo as to whether they have an increased risk of cancer.
“We have to be careful that we are not just increasing this group of worried-well who have incomplete information,” said Dr. Kenneth Offit, chief of the clinical genetics service at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Dr. Offit said it was contradictory that Color was trying to expand testing to everyone on the same day the two biggest testing companies were joining forces to try to reduce how often they find these so-called variants of uncertain significance.
Color is planning to allow women to order tests through its website. Another Silicon Valley start-up that did that, 23andMe, had its health testing shut down in 2013 by the Food and Drug Administration.
Color executives say that unlike with 23andMe, a doctor will be involved in every order and in the test results. If a consumer orders the test directly from its website, her information will be sent to a doctor hired by the company to evaluate it.
An F.D.A. spokeswoman said that if doctors place orders, testing companies that operate their own laboratories do not need F.D.A. approval to offer their tests.
Some testing experts question whether Color can provide testing as inexpensively as it claims. While the actual sequencing might be done for less than $250, that is only part of the cost, which also involves interpretation and working with patients and doctors, they say. Other companies generally charge at least $1,500 for complete analyses of the BRCA genes or for multigene tests.
But Dr. Gil said Color has highly automated its processes and will even offer genetic counseling to women. He said the company chose the saliva test rather than a blood one because it’s easier for users but still accurate. Women send the saliva sample to Color for testing.
Dr. Gil received a doctoral degree in biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, studying a cancer gene. But he has spent much of his career at Google and Twitter. The company’s president, Othman Laraki, also worked at Google and Twitter.
Color’s backers — it says it has raised about $15 million — are mainly from the world of high tech rather than life sciences. Its lead investors are the venture capital firms Khosla Ventures and Formation 8. Individual investors include Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs; Susan L. Wagner, a co-founder of the investment firm BlackRock; Padmasree Warrior, the chief technology and strategy officer at Cisco; and Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo.
Dr. Offit of Sloan Kettering said that even Myriad, which long had a monopoly on BRCA testing and has the most data, has reported having a 2 percent rate of variants of unknown significance, meaning 2 percent of the time it cannot tell if a variant in a gene increases the risk of cancer or is benign. Other companies might have higher rates. And the rates for some other, less-well-studied genes can be 20 or 30 percent, he said.
The entire testing industry is now scrambling to pool data to lower that rate, and in some cases to catch up to Myriad, which has kept much of its data proprietary as a competitive advantage. Various data-sharing efforts are already underway, including by ClinVar and the BRCA Challenge.
Now there is also BRCA Share, which is based on a database of genetic variants maintained by Inserm, a French government health research institute. Quest Diagnostics agreed to provide money to improve that database and pay for experiments on cells that could help determine whether certain mutations raise the risk of cancer.
“We are going to help them make it better,” said Dr. Charles M. Strom, vice president for genomics and genetics at Quest. He said BRCA Share would be open to others, with LabCorp becoming the first to join.
Participants will have to contribute their data to the database. Companies will pay for access to the data on a sliding scale based on their size, while others will have access to the data without paying, he said.
BY M. ALEX JOHNSON
Ronnie Dickinson of Frankfort, Kentucky, turned himself in to authorities with an incredible story, sheriff's officials said Tuesday: His name isn't Ronnie Dickinson, he's been a fugitive for nearly 39 years and he wants to go back to prison for the health care.
Clarence David Moore, 66, called the Franklin County Sheriff's Office on Monday and said he wanted to turn himself in, the sheriff's office said. When deputies arrived, they found Moore — who'd been living in Frankfort since 2009 and had ID'd himself as Ronnie Dickinson — partially paralyzed and unable to walk because of a recent stroke. He was arrested and taken by ambulance to a hospital for examination before he was taken to the Franklin County Regional Jail.
Sheriff Pat Melton told NBC station WLEX of Lexington on Tuesday that Moore said he'd escaped from the Henderson County, North Carolina, Prison Unit in the mid-1970s and has been on the lam for almost four decades.
But as he got sicker, he couldn't get medical coverage to pay for the complications of his stroke and other health problems, because he doesn't have a valid Social Security number under his alias.
"You can't make this up," Melton said.
North Carolina prison records show that Moore, in fact, escaped at least three times from state prisons — the first time in 1971, as he was serving an eight-year sentence for larceny. He was caught within hours, but he escaped again the next year and remained loose until 1975 before he was captured.
Finally, on Aug. 6, 1976, he vanished again — this time, seemingly, for good.
What Moore's been doing for the last almost 39 years remains unclear; Melton said he has difficulty talking because of his stroke. Since 2009, however, he's been the frail, bearded man who was always pleasant to folks in Frankfort, if somewhat reserved, said Edward Jordan, a neighbor.
"I'm shocked," Jordan told WLEX. "I can't believe it.
"He's a diabetic and I'm a diabetic, and we'd sit on the porch and talk about that," Jordan said.
Moore was arraigned Tuesday morning and waived extradition to North Carolina on a charge of being a fugitive from another state. He was being held without bond pending his being returned sometime this week.
Whatever happens, he won't go back to the same prison he escaped from in 1976. It closed in 2002.
Like many healthcare providers in the Los Angeles area, and well beyond to healthcare organizations throughout the United States, City of Hope has recognized the growing need for clinical professionals and staff that more closely mirror the patients it serves in its catchment area. And with a local population that is nearly half Hispanic, that means recruiting more Hispanics into the industry, as well as providing much needed career development opportunities. But whereas most in the industry are just beginning to acknowledge the need, City of Hope has taken the lead to recruit more Hispanics into the industry and also has started to build a Hispanic talent pipeline for the immediate and not so distant future.
According to Ann Miller, senior director of talent acquisition and workforce development, "Even when people in the industry recognize the need for more Hispanics, or just a more diverse workforce, it can feel overwhelming trying to figure out what actions to take and how to build a strategy around it. But once you see the data laid out in front of you, and see that 46 percent of your primary service area is Hispanic, you realize it would be optimal to figure out how to recruit a workforce that looks more like the population you are serving. Beyond that, it's also important to employ a bilingual staff that can speak the language and understand the culture to best meet the needs of the community being served."
Once you recognize the need, it's time to start asking the questions that will help you fill the gaps:
- How do you find and appeal to the types of people you need to start building relationships with? Who are the influencers and the connectors?
- How do you get your recruitment team looking toward the future and building a pipeline, when limited resources are focused on more immediate needs?
- How do you get buy-in from senior management and enlist other departments throughout the organization?
- How do you partner with others in the industry who recognize the need but have yet to become active in the pursuit of common goals?
Here's how City of Hope has started to answer these questions as it takes the lead in addressing these timely industry issues. Stephanie Neuvirth, Chief Human Resources and Diversity Officer, has said that it's not easy to build a diverse healthcare or biomedical pipeline of talent, even when you understand the supply and demand of your primary service area and the business case becomes clearer. "Few in the industry are taking the helicopter perspective that is needed to really see the linkage between the different variables that must be factored in to solve the problem," she says.
Even in healthcare, it's not simple, and it takes time to develop the paths, the relationships and the pipeline to cause real and sustainable change. It takes linking a workforce talent strategy to the broader mission and strategic goals of the organization. And it takes collaboration with the community, schools, government, parents and everyone who touches the pipeline to help achieve the necessary and vital missing pieces of the puzzle.
Talent Acquisition and Workforce Development
What you first have to realize is that there is an immediate but also a long-term gap to fill, which represent two sides of the same coin: talent acquisition and workforce development. We know we can best serve our community by mirroring the community that we serve, and that doesn't stop with the talent that we attract today; it's an imperative that depends on the talent pipeline that we build for the future.
City of Hope's approach has been to start fast and strong with some immediate steps that can then be built upon and cascaded out into a longer term strategy for the future. The good news is that if your goal is to look like the community you serve, you don't have to look far for the talent you need. It's right in your own backyard. But there's still a lot of work to be done in terms of educating people about potential careers in healthcare -- clinical and otherwise -- developing the workforce skills and knowledge that they will need, and planting the seeds in the next generation.
It's particularly disheartening to hear about the young people graduating from high school and college who can't get jobs, when there are growing shortages in the healthcare industry - the nation's third largest industry, and projected to be its second largest in just seven years. According to a recent report by The Economist, U.S. businesses are going to depend heavily on Latinos - the country's fastest-growing and what it calls "irreversible" population -- to fill the gaps not just in healthcare but across all industries.
If you look just at nursing, the single largest profession in California, you can see how far we have to go. Only 7 percent of the 300,000 nurses in the state are Hispanic. The clinical gaps extend to doctors, just 6 percent Latino; pharmacists, less than 6 percent; and the list goes on and on.
Teresa McCormac, nurse recruiter, is one of the people at City of Hope working to build the Hispanic talent pipeline, beginning with the need for Spanish speaking nurses. She is responsible for elevating City of Hope's presence in the community through word of mouth referrals and by getting active in broader outreach online, in publications and at local, college and national events, such as the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) annual conference taking place in Anaheim, CA this July.
"It's important to have a passionate champion for the candidates, as well as our hiring managers and the organization. My role is to get the word out into the community about City of Hope and connect with the talent we need to fill our current and future openings," she says.
This requires a multi-prong approach to recruitment efforts, where you must act to attract candidates not only for current needs, but down the road five-ten years, and even further into the future.
This begs the question: how do you get more Hispanics and other diverse students interested in the sciences and considering careers in healthcare?
Traditionally, recruiters focus on those currently working in healthcare to fill immediate gaps, as well as those working in other industries with transferable skills, who might be interested in working in healthcare in a non-clinical capacity, such as IT or marketing. They also look at colleges with nursing and other clinical programs -- particularly those with high concentrations of Hispanics and other diverse students -- where they can conduct outreach efforts, build partnerships and establish a presence.
But building a talent pipeline requires that you reach students well before the college years, when they are still in high school, and even earlier as middle and grade-schoolers. It takes time to get the message out there and have it stick, so the bigger and bolder you can go, the better. That was City of Hope's thinking behind the launch of its Diversity Health Care Career Expo in September 2014, which made quite an impact with the community and opened eyes to the variety of career opportunities within healthcare. It also opened City of Hope's eyes to the level of interest from the community when 1500 people showed up for this first of its kind event.
What started as an idea for a diversity career fair to fill immediate positions quickly grew to encompass a workforce development component to include students, parents, as well as working professionals interested in transitioning into healthcare. The Career Expo brought a level of awareness never seen before in the community -- and did so very quickly. For example, it allowed healthcare professionals to connect the dots between math and science classes students were taking and how this learning applied in the real world of healthcare -- and the different careers these types of classes are helping to prepare them for if they stick with them. It also allowed parents to understand how to help their children prepare for jobs that are available and will continue to be available in the future. They also gained insights into how growing up with smartphones and other electronic devices has given their children a distinct advantage that previous generations didn't have -- enabling them to leverage their everyday use of technology into transferable skills that could lead towards a career in Information Technology, which offers a very promising career path within the healthcare and biomedicine industries.
Catching students early on to spark their interest and expose them to healthcare careers and professionals who can encourage and support them along the way requires that you go out into the community as well. Toward that end, City of Hope has partnered with Duarte Unified School District and Citrus College on a program called TEACH (Train, Educate and Accelerate Careers in Healthcare).
According to Tamara Robertson, senior manager of recruitment, the TEACH partnership provides students with the opportunity to gain college credit while still in high school by taking college-level classes at no cost. This puts them on the fast track to higher education and career readiness by giving them essential skills and capabilities to enter the workforce soon after graduating high school, or to continue their education with up to one year of college coursework already completed. Eighteen students were accepted into the program in its first year.
Each partner plays a valuable role in the program. City of Hope provides students with opportunities to gain first-hand exposure to healthcare IT by giving overviews of the various areas within IT, providing summer internships, and offering mentoring and development interactions. Duarte High School is the conduit for the program by selecting the students for the program and facilitating the learning, and Citrus College develops the curriculum that enables students to earn college credits and IT certifications. It's ideal for students who may not have the means to continue on to college, but can work for an organization like City of Hope that offers opportunities to start their IT career as a Helpdesk or Technology Specialist. In addition, they can take advantage of tuition reimbursement should they choose to further their education and development.
In today's world, social media must be in the recruitment mix, especially if you want to engage with Hispanics who index higher on time spent on social media than the general population and any other group. Statistically, 80 percent of Hispanics utilize social media compared to 75 percent of African Americans and 70 percent of non-Hispanic whites. It's also a great way to reach not just active candidates in search of a new position, but passive ones employed elsewhere whose interest may be peaked when a more interesting opportunity presents itself.
This is where Aggie Cooke, branding and digital specialist, comes in -- leveraging social media as a core component of City of Hope's outreach efforts to potential candidates. She takes a three-legged approach to the use of social media for recruitment:
1. Branding - offering relevant content that portrays the culture and appeals to a candidate's values and broader career aspirations;
2. Targeting - identifying potential candidates who have skills and experiences that the organization needs today and in the future; and
3. Engaging - creating a relationship by inviting candidates to dialog with City of Hope.
You can reach more people through social media -- even if they're not active job seekers -- by posting information that is relevant to their field and interests. For example, oncology nurses will be interested in what you have to say about the latest developments in the world of oncology.
Though it can seem overwhelming with so many messages out there competing for people's attention, you can break through with content that is authentic, timely and purposeful. You can also make an impact by tailoring your content to the medium you are using. For example, a story about a scientific breakthrough at City of Hope would play well on LinkedIn, while pictures of happy employees taking a Zumba class together would engage potential candidates on Instagram. Social media also enables you to expand the reach and prolong the life of live events. For example, attendees of the Career Expo last year engaged online with live tweets and Instagram pictures from the event and later provided comments and feedback about their experience that will be instrumental in planning this year's event.
Going forward, successful programs and events, like TEACH and the Diversity Health Care Career Expo, will be expanded upon, as City of Hope continues to lead the way in talent acquisition, workforce development and creating a talent pipeline for Hispanics and the future of healthcare.
By GILLIAN MOHNEY
Turns out even Muppets aren't immune to the need for vaccinations.
In a new video released by the U.S. Health and Human Services, Elmo of “Sesame Street” joined forces with the U.S. Surgeon General to encourage all children to be up to date on their vaccinations.
"I explained to him that, as Surgeon General, it is my job to help everyone stay healthy," U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy said in a statement. "Specifically, Elmo and I talked about the importance of vaccines and making sure that all children are protected from easily preventable diseases."
While a shot may not be fun for a Muppet, even Elmo says he's ready. "Come on everybody get vaccinated with Elmo!" he said in the video.
The video was released the same day that the California State Department of Health declared the end of a recent measles outbreak that infected 147 people in the United States, with 131 people sickened in California alone.
A bill is pending in the California state legislature that would stop parents from seeking personal or religious belief exemptions that would allow their children to attend school without being vaccinated.
While nationwide the rate of vaccination remains high, pockets of unvaccinated people have led to recent outbreaks of diseases formerly thought of as eliminated or extremely rare.
Vaccines helped stop 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths of children in the United States from 1994 to 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The Giles family is celebrating two miracles after the 20 year-old mom opened her eyes and saw a picture of her newborn child.
Sharista Giles awakened this week from a four month coma that doctors had feared would be permanent and learned that she had given birth to a baby boy.
Sharista was four-months pregnant when she was involved in a car crash near Nashville, Tennessee. Doctors told her family she had a 10% chance of coming out of the coma.
"The doctors were telling us there was nothing else they could do," her aunt Beverly Giles, 49, told ABC News. "They already gave up hope. We never gave up. She's fought this hard."
The infant, who is being called "Baby L" until his mom is able to give him a proper name, weighed just over 1 pound when he was welcomed into the world a month after the accident.
But now he's healthy, weighing 6 pounds and 4 ounces, and proving he's as strong as his mother - who still hasn't spoken yet.
Sharista's father held up a picture of "Baby L" when she woke up, and she never took her eyes off the image, her aunt told ABC News. "When he turned around to put it back on the bulletin board, she turned her neck, her whole head trying to follow and find the picture again."
By Tracey Boyd
Informatics programs that allow med/surg nurses to cut down on documentation and increase patient safety at the touch of a button are becoming more essential in today’s fast-paced healthcare environment.
“Most all nurses use the electronic health record in their daily practice,” said Jill Arzouman, MSN, RN, ACNS-BC, CMSRN, president of the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses and clinical nurse specialist in surgical oncology at the University of Arizona Medical Center, Tucson. The university has computer stations inside each patient room for access to charting, she said, and some hospitals are investing in iPads to facilitate charting. Arzouman is a DNP candidate.
Med/surg nurses at New York’s Montefiore Health System in the Bronx use informatics throughout the day to document patients’ electronic medical records and provide direct care to patients, said Maureen Scanlan, MSN, RN-BC, vice president, nursing and patient care services and former director of informatics for the health system. “Electronic documentation has provided us the ability to track and trend patient outcomes data in a more efficient manner. We have the added benefit of decision support alerts to guide practice and documentation. We then can leverage information collected from the records to streamline workflows and improve patient safety.”
According to a HealthIt.gov study “Benefits of EHRs,” (www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/improved-diagnostics-patient-outcomes), having quick, up-to-date access to patients’ information can also reduce errors and support better patient outcomes by keeping a record of a patient’s medications or allergies, checking for problems whenever a new medication is prescribed and alerting the clinician to potential conflicts.
“The ability to clearly read a medication order printed from a computer is vastly different than trying to decipher a handwritten order,” said Arzouman.
In addition, staff can revisit patient information at any time.
“Many of the systems are very intuitive and allow the entire interdisciplinary team to document and communicate with precision and ease,” she said “A medical/surgical nurse may be busy with another patient but she or he can go back and read documentation from the dietitian who may have visited the patient at the same time.“
A reduction in medication errors was the catalyst for a project using computerized EHRs at Abington (Penn.) Health. When staff realized that patients with heart failure were being readmitted largely because of incorrect medication lists upon discharge, Diane Humbrecht, MSN, RN-BC, chief nursing informatics officer, devised a plan to evaluate the accuracy of such lists.
Humbrecht, a DNP candidate who is also a chapter director for the American Nursing Informatics Association, has worked in both cardiac and home care during her career and said she had experienced heart failure patients going home with medication lists that were either incorrect or missing information.
“It was very frustrating for both the patient and the nurse who is trying to follow up,” she said.
As part of her DNP program, Humbrecht decided to focus on transitions of care for this vulnerable population to help correct their discharge medication instructions and reduce their risk for readmission.
“As I began researching, I saw medication errors on medication discharge lists were the main reasons patients were readmitted to the hospital,” she said. •
Her findings were validated, she said, when the transition nurses who were involved in the postop discharge process informed her of problems with patients going home with incorrect medication lists. “Medication reconciliation and discharge instructions are done by the physician, but the nurses are the ones who review them and they were finding these errors after discharge,” she said.
Humbrecht implemented three changes to remedy the situation. The first step was to bring the pharmacists in on the front end. Pharmacists already performed patient rounding on units, but they were not involved in medication reconciliation at all, she said. The new protocol called for pharmacists to come in within 24 hours of a patient’s admittance to review the co-medications. The input from the pharmacists on the front end was crucial. “The pharmacists had to change about 80% of the lists,” Humbrecht said.
Next, upon discharge, the nurses perform a thorough review of the co-medications list that was corrected by the pharmacist. “If anything needed to be corrected, the nurse then called the physician to tell them they need to change a medication,” Humbrecht said. “Once that was done, it caused the physician to perform medication reconciliation again, automatically updating the entire medication list.”
The transition nurses were the final piece to the puzzle. Prior to the new protocol, upon calling the discharged patient and finding any errors, the nurse would make notations on paper. If the patient was readmitted, and the change was not transferred onto the patient’s EHR, the incorrect information was still in the system. Now, using the computerized medication list, any errors are updated immediately in the system.
The changes worked. Since implementation last fall, the transition nurses have found one error on the medication list of a discharged patient, Humbrecht said.
“We figured if we can get the home medication list correct on the front end by using the pharmacists and double-checked and changed as needed by the nurses on the back end, then the transition nurses should find less errors,” she said.
Besides documentation and patient safety, med/surg nurses are using informatics to enhance patient care. “Our staff nurses provide expert advice when we are defining a new process for delivering patient care,” said Scanlan, who holds board certification in nursing informatics. “A recent implementation of a new lab system that changed the way specimens are collected was successful due to workflow and hardware recommendations from the frontline staff.”
Scanlan said staff nurses recently have contributed to revising the electronic skin assessment template as well.
“Although not a clear time saver,” she said, “it has significantly improved the ability to track, trend and communicate hospital-acquired pressure ulcers [and] has supported performance improvement efforts that are led by the nursing staff.”
Arzouman also noted innovative uses. “For a postoperative patient who needs to continue to ambulate and exercise while at home, a medical/surgical nurse can teach the patient how to track his activity using a smart phone app,” she said. “I have had the opportunity to trial an app on my smart phone that translates basic medical information into many different languages without needing to use a translator. For something simple like ‘Hi, my name is Jill and I will be the nurse coordinating your care today,’ it is a very helpful tool.”
By SYDNEY LUPKIN
Formerly conjoined twins Knatalye Hope and Adeline Faith Mata celebrated their first birthday with a "Frozen"-themed party at the hospital.
A team at Texas Children's Hospital separated the girls on Feb. 17 in a 26-hour surgery. They are still in the pediatric intensive care unit and have each had a few surgeries since the separation, but their mother, Elysse Mata, decorated their room with snowflakes and balloons.
"It's been a year," Mata said, surrounded by presents as the hospital filmed her. "It went by so fast. I feel like just yesterday they were born."
Earlier in the week, Mata had a party for everyone at the hospital who helped her babies over the last year. She said she was sad to leave some of the doctors from before the separation, but she knows it's a positive thing.
"Now they're good and healthy and hopefully headed towards home," said Mata, 25, of Lubbock, Texas.
Mata was shocked to learn the twins were conjoined when she was pregnant with them, she told ABC News in July.
"I was speechless, it was so unexpected,” she said.
The girls were born on April 11, 2014 at Texas Children's Hospital. They shared a chest wall, diaphragm, intestines, lungs, lining of the heart and pelvis. Their middle names are Hope and Faith because you can't have one without the other, she said.
"Nightline" was at the hospital in February as 12 surgeons operated on the Mata twins, and Elysse, her husband and 20 family members camped out in the waiting room.