DiversityNursing Blog

Smartphones to Nurses are Doctors on Call

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, Jun 05, 2015 @ 11:51 AM

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We found this interesting article about the growth of smartphone use and apps available to Nurses while at work. These apps are being used to research drugs, gather information about home care as well as diseases and disorders. This is an area that will continue to grow and hopefully provide much needed assistance to our hard-working Nurses.

A new survey indicates nurses are relying more than ever on their smartphone for clinical care – to the detriment of the so-called "doctor on call."

Conducted by InCrowd, a Boston-based market intelligence firm, the survey found that 95 percent of the 241 responding nurses own a smartphone and 88 percent use smartphone apps at work. More intriguing, 52 percent said they use an app instead of asking a colleague, and 32 percent said they consult their smartphone instead of a physician.

"The hospital gets very busy and there isn't always someone available to bounce ideas off of," one respondent said. Said another: "It's often easier to get the information needed using my smartphone – I don't have to wait for a response from a coworker."

Nurses have long been seen as an under-appreciated market for mHealth technology, and one that differs significantly from doctors, but that seems to be changing. Companies like Voalte are marketing communications platforms targeted at nurses, and even IBM has come out with a line of nurse-specific apps.

"There's a lot of untapped potential in the use of mobile apps for nursing," Judy Murphy, IBM's chief nursing officer, told mHealth News.

Unlike physicians, who are looking for apps that can retrieve information, enter orders and push notifications, nurses need apps that assist their workflow, offer quick information and coordinate multiple activities.

"It's all about care coordination," Murphy said. "Nurses want apps that can help them organize their day."

The ideal app will be simple in nature, so that it can be used quickly, and will help nurses organize several functions, from taking care of multiple patients to addressing orders from doctors, according to Murphy. Some tasks, like entering complex data into the EMR, actually clutter the form factor of the smartphone and are best handled at a workstation.

According to the InCrowd survey, nurses are quick to point out that their smartphones "enhance but don't substitute" for the physician, but when they're running around and need a quick question answered about medications, illnesses or symptoms, sometimes the app does the job more effectively – such as "in patient homecare situations when I need quick answers without making a bunch of phone calls," or "so I can make an educated suggestion to the doctor."

According to the survey, 73 percent of the nurses surveyed use their smartphones to look up drug information at the bedside, while 72 percent use it to look up various diseases or disorders. And befitting the various roles of the smartphone in the healthcare setting, 69 percent of nurses said they use their smartphones to stay in touch with colleagues. Other uses include viewing images and setting timers for medication administration.

Finally, the survey found that nurses are using smartphones in the workplace no matter who's paying for them. Some 87 percent of those surveyed said their employer isn't covering any costs related to the smartphone, while 9 percent are reimbursed for the cost of the monthly bill, 1 percent receive some reimbursement for the cost of the smartphone, and 3 percent are reimbursed for both the phone and the phone bill. Less than 1 percent, meanwhile, said their institution bans the use of personal smartphones while on duty.

"We're hitting the tip of the iceberg here with apps that a nurse will want and will use," Murphy said.

www.mhealthnews.com

Contributor: Eric Wicklund

Topics: health, healthcare, nurses, doctors, medical, clinical, clinical care, smartphones

Clinical Signs For Impending Death In Cancer Patients Identified

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Feb 09, 2015 @ 01:05 PM

Written by James McIntosh

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While many would rather not think about when someone might die, knowing how much longer a seriously ill person has left to live can be very useful for managing how they spend their final days. Researchers have now revealed eight signs in patients with advanced cancer associated with death within 3 days.

Diagnosis of an impending death can help clinicians, patients and their friends and family to make important decisions. Doctors can spare time and resources by stopping daily bloodwork and medication that will not make a short-term difference. Families will know if they still have time to visit their relatives.

"This study shows that simple bedside observations can potentially help us to recognize if a patient has entered the final days of life," says study author Dr. David Hui.

"Upon further confirmation of the usefulness of these 'tell-tale' signs, we will be able to help doctors, nurses, and families to better recognize the dying process, and in turn, to provide better care for the patients in the final days of life."

The study, published in Cancer, follows on from the Investigating the Process of Dying Study - a longitudinal observational study that documented the clinical signs of patients admitted to an acute palliative care unit (APCU). During the study, the researchers identified five signs that were highly predictive of an impending death within 3 days.

For the new study, the researchers again observed the physical changes in cancer patients admitted to two APCUs - at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, and the Barretos Cancer Hospital in Brazil.

Eight highly-specific physical signs were identified

A total of 357 cancer patients participated in the study. The researchers observed them and documented 52 physical signs every 12 hours following their admission to the APCUs. The patients were observed until they died or were discharged from the hospitals, with 57% dying during the study.

The researchers found eight highly-specific physical signs identifiable at the bedside that strongly suggested that a patient would die within the following 3 days if they were present. The signs identified were:

  • Decreased response to verbal stimuli
  • Decreased response to visual stimuli
  • Drooping of "smile lines"
  • Grunting of vocal cords
  • Hyperextension of neck
  • Inability to close eyelids
  • Non-reactive pupils
  • Upper gastrointestinal bleeding.

With the exception of upper gastrointestinal bleeding, all of these signs are related to deterioration in neurocognitive and neuromuscular function.

Neurological decline strongly associated with death

"The high specificity suggests that few patients who did not die within 3 days were observed to have these signs," the authors write. "These signs were commonly observed in the last 3 days of life with a frequency in patients between 38% and 78%. Our findings highlight that the progressive decline in neurological function is associated with the dying process."

As the study is limited by only examining cancer patients admitted to APCUs, it is not known whether these findings will apply to patients with different types of illness. The findings are currently being evaluated in other clinical settings such as inpatient hospices.

On account of the relatively small number of patients observed for this study, the authors also suggest that their findings should be regarded as preliminary until validated by further research.

In the meantime, the authors of the study are working to develop a diagnostic tool to assist clinical decision-making and educational materials for both health care professionals and patients' families.

"Upon further validation, the presence of these telltale signs would suggest that patients [...] are actively dying," they conclude. "Taken together with the five physical signs identified earlier, these objective bedside signs may assist clinicians, family members, and researchers in recognizing when the patient has entered the final days of life."

Source: www.medicalnewstoday.com

Topics: signs, diagnosis, ill, clinicians, health, research, nurses, doctors, health care, cancer, patients, death, treatment, clinical

Freakishly High Definition Future of Body Scanning

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Jan 21, 2015 @ 10:44 AM

By Dan Kedmey

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General Electric released images on Wednesday from its first clinical trial of a next generation body scanner that captures bones, blood vessels and organs in high-definition.

The patients ride into the chamber of the scanner, dubbed “Revolution CT,” where a fan-shaped beam of x rays passes down their bodies and a computer reconstructs a digital model of the body, slice-by-slice. The scanner can build an image of a heart in the time it takes for a single heartbeat, according to GE.

The snapshots below, provided by GE, may look like an artist’s rendering from an anatomy textbook. In fact, they were taken from living patients at West Kendall Baptist Hospital in south Florida, the first hospital to test the new scanner in the field.

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Source: http://time.com

Topics: digital, tests, anatomy, organs, bones, GE, General Electric, trial, body scanner, blood vessels, high-definition, x rays, health, healthcare, nurse, nurses, doctors, health care, hospital, treatment, physicians, clinical

'Kissing Bug' Now Spreading Tropical Disease in U.S.

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Nov 05, 2014 @ 11:52 AM

By Steven Reinberg

kissing bug

Residents of the southern United States may be at risk for a parasitic infection that can lead to severe heart disease and death, three new studies suggest.

Chagas disease, which is transmitted by "kissing bugs" that feed on the faces of humans at night, was once thought limited to Mexico, Central America and South America.

That's no longer the case, the new research shows.

"We are finding new evidence that locally acquired human transmission is occurring in Texas," said Melissa Nolan Garcia, a research associate at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and the lead author of two of the three studies.

Garcia is concerned that the number of infected people in the United States is growing and far exceeds the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's estimate of 300,000.

In one pilot study, her team looked at 17 blood donors in Texas who tested positive for the parasite that causes Chagas disease.

"We were surprised to find that 36 percent had evidence of being a locally acquired case," she said. "Additionally, 41 percent of this presumably healthy blood donor population had heart abnormalities consistent with Chagas cardiac disease."

The CDC, however, still believes most people with the disease in the United States were infected in Mexico, Central and South America, said Dr. Susan Montgomery, of the agency's parasitic diseases branch.

"There have been a few reports of people becoming infected with these bugs here in the United States," she said. "We don't know how often that is happening because there may be cases that are undiagnosed, since many doctors would not think to test their patients for this disease. However, we believe the risk of infection is very low."

Maybe so, but kissing bugs -- blood-sucking insects called triatomine bugs -- are found across the lower half of the United States, according to the CDC. The insects feed on animals and people at night.

The feces of infected bugs contains the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which can enter the body through breaks in the skin. Chagas disease can also be transmitted through blood.

It's a silent killer, Garcia said. People don't feel sick, so they don't seek care, but it causes heart disease in about 30 percent of those who get infected, she said.

In another study, Garcia's team collected 40 insects in 11 Texas counties. They found that 73 percent carried the parasite and half of those had bitten humans as well as other animals, such as dogs, rabbits and raccoons.

A third study found that most people infected with Chagas aren't treated.

For that project, Dr. Jennifer Manne-Goehler, a clinical fellow at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, collected data on nearly 2,000 people whose blood tested positive for Chagas.

Her team found that only 422 doses of medication for the infection were given by the CDC from 2007 to 2013. "This highlights an enormous treatment gap," Manne-Goehler said in a news release.

The findings of all three studies, published recently in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, were to be presented Tuesday in New Orleans at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Symptoms of Chagas can range from none to severe with fever, fatigue, body aches and serious cardiac and intestinal complications.

"Physicians should consider Chagas when patients have swelling and enlargement of the heart not caused by high blood pressure, diabetes or other causes, even if they do not have a history of travel," Garcia said.

However, the two treatments for this disease are "only available [in the United States] via an investigative drug protocol regulated by the CDC," Garcia said. They are not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Efforts are under way to develop other treatments for Chagas disease, Montgomery said.

"Several groups have made some exciting progress in drug development," she said, "but none have reached the point where they can be used to treat patients in regular clinical practice."

Source: health.usnews.com

Topics: health, healthcare, nurses, CDC, medical, medicine, treatment, hospitals, practice, infection, bug, tropical disease, clinical, kissing bug

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