DiversityNursing Blog

Chief Wellness Officer - More Healthcare Organizations Are Adding CWO’s To Their C-Suite

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, Oct 08, 2021 @ 03:06 PM

wellnessEven before the pandemic, healthcare providers experienced burnout and other negative mental health issues. Now more than ever, it is critical health systems take steps to support their staff's well-being.

Recently, more healthcare organizations have started to hire Chief Wellness Officers (CWO), as a strategy to address burnout, mental health, and compassion fatigue.

Jonathan Ripp MD, MPH, Chief Wellness Officer at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said there were only a handful of Chief Wellness Officer positions when he was appointed to the role in May 2018. “There has been at least a dozen more who have been named in the past year, and several more places that are looking to create the position,” said Dr. Ripp. “I would not be surprised if, 10 years from now, it's commonplace for most large organizations to have a Chief Wellness Officer or equivalent, taking this challenge on, and doing so in a way that is effective.”

The ultimate goal of this role is to aid system-wide changes that enable staff to practice in a culture that prioritizes and promotes mental health and well-being.

The CWO is responsible for measuring well-being across their organization. Then, they create and implement wellness programs that address the current environment causing burnout and stress.

The hiring of a CWO is not a remedy all on its own. The CWO works in collaboration with other leaders and staff to prioritize well-being and would ultimately lower costs and improve patient care.

According to Beckers Hospital Review, burnout and depression result in major costs to health systems due to an increase in medical errors, reduced quality of care, and turnover. Research has found that for every dollar invested in wellness, hospitals can see a $3 to $6 return on investment.

Medical Schools are also following the hiring trend.

According to Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School, medical students are more likely to experience burnout and depression than peers on different career paths. To confront the challenge head-on, they appointed their first Chief Wellness Officer, Dr. Kelly Holder.

Holder said, "Mental and emotional wellness is essential to complete health. We simply cannot ignore this fact. I view my role as another way to serve the students, faculty and physicians in Brown’s medical school, and aid them in not just meeting their immediate self-care needs but also creating and developing plans that can help them learn more about how to take care of themselves in a way that's sustainable for a profession that demands a lot."

“Wellness and self-care is more important than ever before. These next few years will be critical for health care workers as we address the mental and physical burdens from COVID-19,” said George Washington University's Chief Wellness Officer, Lorenzo Norris, MD.

Hopefully this position sticks around, even after the pandemic passes, because burnout and mental health have been issues in the healthcare field all along.

Topics: mental health, compassion fatigue, burnout, hospitals, Nurse burnout, healthcare organizations, frontline workers, front line workers mental health, compassion fatigue in nursing, C-Suite, Chief Wellness Officers, CWO

Qualities Of A Successful Nurse Leader

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Aug 02, 2021 @ 10:18 AM

GettyImages-1273293709Health care organizations rely on Nurse leaders to manage teams, patient care, and promote organizational goals. In order to meet these goals, a successful Nurse leader must possess certain qualities such as...

Good communication. In healthcare, effective communication can literally be the difference between life and death. 

Nurse leaders should make themselves accessible and establish an environment that promotes an open-door policy so Nurses feel comfortable discussing issues or concerns. Team meetings is another great way to keep regular communication throughout shifts. 

Accountability. Nurse leaders are responsible for creating and maintaining a culture of accountability.

According to Duquesne University, some of the steps to creating a culture of accountability include:

  • Building trust: The foundation for successful workplace accountability is trust. Employees who trust each other are more willing to accept and act on constructive criticism rather than assuming it is ill-willed.
  • Developing strong communication skills: Individuals who use an assertive communication style can express information in an honest, open, and direct manner. The assertive communication style is not aggressive in tone, but instead is respectful and avoids blame and criticism.
  • Developing clear expectations: The American Nurses Association (ANA) outlines the expectations and responsibilities for all Nurses including the overall responsibility for their patients and practice. Nurse leaders should continually remind Nurses of the expectations of practice.
  • Modeling accountability: A workplace that has leaders who accept responsibility and hold themselves and others accountable creates a culture of accountability. Nurses who are leading teams of Nurses must be open to feedback and criticism. 

Emotionally Supportive. Without empathy, you can't build a team or nurture a future generation of leaders. 

Empathy in healthcare means more than just being a sounding board. It requires conscious effort to take a step back and respect a coworker's feelings, needs, and concerns. This process requires a skill set that can be developed with time, practice, and instruction. When healthcare workers can discuss and cope with their emotions, they can better care for their patients and avoid or manage stress that leads to burnout.

Goal Getter. A great Nurse leader is always striving for excellence, and that requires evaluating how the organization is doing, identifying priorities for improvement, setting measurable goals, leading teams to achieve them, and then celebrating those achievements.

Adaptable. The role of a Nurse will always be evolving and changing. Nurse leaders must possess the ability to be flexible and adapt to new environments, technologies, policies, and as we've seen over the last year with COVID-19, global health issues.

These qualities are important throughout the entire Nursing industry, regardless of where you are in your career. Even if you aren't a manager, you can use these leadership skills to motivate your team to be more efficient and productive.

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Topics: nurses, health care, hospitals, nurse leaders, nurse leadership, nurse leader, nurse leader qualities

Nurses Showing The Faces Behind The Masks

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, Jul 31, 2020 @ 03:06 PM

Button2

Healthcare workers across the country are fighting tirelessly against COVID-19. They're wearing head to toe PPE around the clock. They're hot and frustrated while wearing it, and… they also lose their identity. Patients just see masks, suits, gloves, and goggles. Hospital staff wants this to change.

"Share Your Smile" and the "Button Project" are just 2 examples of a small, but positive movement. To look less intimidating to patients, healthcare heroes are attaching large photos and buttons of their faces, to their PPE.  

The goal of these projects is to eliminate or reduce a level of fear and anxiety for patients, especially children, who find comfort in seeing the smiling faces of healthcare team rodmembers.

San Diego respiratory therapist Robertino Rodriguez started the "Share Your Smile" idea. Rodriguez said, “Yesterday I felt bad for my patients in ER when I would come in the room with my face covered in PPE. A reassuring smile makes a big difference to a scared patient. So today I made a giant laminated badge for my PPE so my patients can see a reassuring and comforting smile.”

peggyThe movement is catching on amongst health care workers. Peggy Ji, an ER Doctor in Los Angeles, wrote on Instagram, "I was inspired by Robertino Rodriguez who works as a respiratory therapist in this COVID pandemic. I didn’t have a preprinted photo or a color printer so my polaroid will have to do. I wanted to bring a personal touch to caring for patients through my PPE. My hope is that our patients will know there’s a reassuring smile under this mask, and that we’re here for them."

 

Nurse Derek also posted a photo of himself and fellow coworkers on Instagram saying, "thought it was a beautiful way to bring ease to our patients during this stressful time. Thank you to all the healthcare workers out there for battling on the frontlines."

others

The Button project holds the same meaning and started at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Adelaide Vienneau, Director of the Children’s Hospital Family Resource Center (FRC) said, “When we were asked to take the lead on this project, I immediately said, ‘yes.' The FRC team likes finding solutions for staff and providing resources to assist patients and families in having the best possible experience during their health care visit. We are delighted with the anecdotal comments on how the photo buttons have been well-received.”

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Any time in the hospital as a patient is a scary time for the patient. The personal connection is so important, but difficult to achieve with all of the PPE. What a simple, yet creative way to put patients at ease to feel a more personal connection with the healthcare team.

What is your place of employment doing about this? Please share with our community. Thank you!

 

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Topics: nurses, hospitals, hospital staff, COVID-19, PPE, healthcare workers, personal protective equipment, share your smile, healthcare team

See How Nurses Are Doing Less Walking And More Caring

Posted by Pat Magrath

Thu, Feb 16, 2017 @ 11:11 AM

graduates-nursing-bsn.jpgEvery Nurse I know who works in a hospital, says they are amazed how much walking they do in their 12-hour shift. If you wear a Fitbit or another step tracking device, you know you walk miles during your shift. Here’s a story about a hospital that did a study to see where they could eliminate some steps for Nurses in the design of their new building.
 
The goal was to give Nurses more time to deliver the best patient care. If you have to walk all over the building to fulfill a medication order, perhaps there is a better way to do it with less steps. Maybe the applesauce or ginger ale could be located closer to where the medicine is dispensed. Please read on for some valuable information.

You don't know what you don't know until you know it.

That's the lesson leaders at ProMedica Toledo Hospital in Ohio learned during the design of its 615,000 square-foot patient tower set to 2019.

As part of the design process, the organization took part in research to identify and refine ways to improve nursing care and efficiencies, including distance traveled during a shift.

Architects from HKS, Inc., the firm designing the building, approached Alison Avendt, OT, MBA, vice president of operations, at ProMedica Toledo Hospital about doing the research.

"We have a building that we opened in 2008, so they wanted to look at how we were using the spaces [there], and get feedback from nursing on how it was working," Avendt says.

"That was really attractive to me because I heard we had issues with the building that we were in and there were many things that we wish we could have done better. I thought if we could do a good design diagnostic and learn something from that, it would really help guide our design work."

An Applesauce Moment
During two days of onsite observation, researchers shadowed ICU nurses and intermediate-level medical-surgical nurses. The researchers assessed the existing floor plan, used a parametric modeling tool, and created heat maps to provide a graphic representation of what a nurse's 12-hour shift looked like in terms of workflow and walking distances.

"One of the big [revelations] was around our whole process of medication passing," says Deana Sievert, RN, MSN, metro regional chief nursing officer and vice president for patient care services at ProMedica.

Observation revealed that a nurse reviewed the patient's medication administration record in the patient's room, walked to the supply room to get the medication from the Pyxis machine, and then often had to stop by the patient refrigerator to get something—like applesauce—to aid in the medication pass before walking back to the patient's room to administer the medication.

"It was something that was just so ingrained in our staff nurses' normal daily activities," Sievert says. "When they did the heat mapping it was like…'Wow. [There's a] big pinch point that we as staff nurses didn't really even realize was there.' "

Avendt says the researcher called this realization "the applesauce moment."

"Nurses are masterful at just making things work. There are a lot of things that the nurses knew were not value-added or were problematic, but they would just make it work," she says.

"It was really good to flesh out what those things were by observing because if you just ask[ed] them, the nurse would often not be able to verbalize what the problem was. But by seeing it, it came to light."

The architects used this information to design a unit that would cut down on walking time. Instead of a long corridor with a common area at one end, the unit was broken up into pods and supplies were located in multiple areas so nurses could get them from the location to which they were closest.

"We were able to take them from a three-mile journey on their shift to 1.5 miles. We cut in half the steps that they were taking," Avendt says.

After the tower opens, more research will be done to see how the design is affecting workflow.

"We've since learned that [field research] is not common for people to do. We paid a little bit of money to do that, but in the scheme of things it was well worth the investment," Avendt says.

"Everybody wants to give the nurse as much time as possible to be with the patient [and] try to take away the things that are not value-added in the nurse's day."

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Topics: efficiency, patient care, hospitals, Nurse burnout

Demand For Travel Nurses Hits A 20-Year High

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, May 27, 2015 @ 02:03 PM

Phil Galewitz

www.usatoday.com 

635679001184311388 Cherisse Dillard Travel Nurse resized 600With her children grown and husband nearing retirement, Amy Reynolds was ready to leave behind snowy Flagstaff, Ariz., to travel but she wasn't ready to give up her nursing career.

She didn't have to.

For the past three years, Reynolds, 55, has been a travel nurse – working for about three months at a time at hospitals in California, Washington, Texas and Idaho, among other states. Her husband accompanies her on the assignments. "It's been wonderful," she said in May after starting a stint in Sacramento. "It's given us a chance to try out other parts of the country."

Reynolds is one of thousands of registered nurses who travel the country helping hospitals and other health care facilities in need of experienced, temporary staff.

With an invigorated national economy and millions of people gaining health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, demand for nurses such as Reynolds is at a 20-year high, industry analysts say. That's meant Reynolds has her pick of hospitals and cities when it's time for her next assignment. And it's driven up stock prices of the largest publicly traded travel-nurse companies, including San Diego-based AMN Healthcare Services and Cross Country Healthcare of Boca Raton, Fla.

"We've seen a broad uptick in health care employment, which the staffing agencies are riding," said Randle Reece, an analyst with investment firm Avondale Partners. He estimates the demand for nurses and other health care personnel is at its highest level since the mid-1990s.

Demand for travel nursing is expected to increase by 10% this year "due to declining unemployment, which raises demand by increasing commercial admissions to hospitals," according to Staffing Industry Analysts, a research firm. That trend is expected to accelerate, the report said, because of higher hospital admissions propelled by the health law. 

Improved profits — particularly in states that expanded Medicaid — have also made hospitals more amenable to hire travel nurses to help them keep up with rising admissions, analysts say.

At AMN Healthcare, the nation's largest travel-nurse company, demand for nurses is up significantly in the past year: CEO Susan Salka said orders from many hospitals have doubled or tripled in recent years. Much of the demand is for nurses with experience in intensive care, emergency departments and other specialty areas. "We can't fill all the jobs that are out there," she said.

Northside Hospital in Atlanta is among hospitals that have recently increased demand for travel nurses, said David Votta, manager of human resources. "It's a love-hate relationship," he said. From a financial viewpoint, the travel nurses can cost significantly more per hour than regular nurses. But the travel nurses provide a vital role to help the hospital fills gaps in staffing so they can serve more patients. 

Northside is using 40 travel nurses at its three hospitals, an increase of about 52% since last year. The system employs about 4,000 nurses overall. 

Historically, the most common reason why hospitals turn to traveling nurses is seasonal demand, according to a 2011 study by accounting firm KPMG. Nearly half of hospitals surveyed said seasonal influxes in places such as Arizona or Florida, where large numbers of retirees flock every winter, led them to hire traveling nurses. 

Though there have been rare reports of travel nurses involved in patient safety problems, a 2012 study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania published in the Journal of Health Services Research found no link between travel nurses and patient mortality rates. The study examined more than 1.3 million patients and 40,000 nurses in more than 600 hospitals. "Our study showed these nurses could be lifesavers. Hiring temporary nurses can alleviate shortages that could produce higher patient mortality," said Linda Aiken, director of the university's Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Staffing Association Foundation.

The staffing companies screen and interview nurses to make sure they are qualified, and some hospitals, such as Northside, also make their own checks. Nurses usually spend a couple days getting orientated to a hospital and its operations before beginning work. They have to be licensed in each state they practice in, although about 20 states have reciprocity laws that expedite the process.

Cherisse Dillard, a labor and delivery room nurse, has been a traveler for nearly a decade. In the past few years, she's worked at hospitals in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Pensacola and the San Francisco area.

While delivering a baby is relatively standard practice, she said she makes it a practice at each new hospital to talk to doctors and other staff to learn what their preferences are with drugs and other procedures. Dillard, 46, often can negotiate to be off on weekends and be paid a high hourly rate. "When the economy crashed in 2008, hospitals became tight with their budget and it was tough to find jobs, but now it's back to full swing and there are abundant jobs for travel nurses," she said.

Topics: health coverage, affordable care act, healthcare, RN, nurse, nurses, hospitals, travel nurse, travel nurses

Your Roommate In The Nursing Home Might Be A Bedbug

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Tue, May 26, 2015 @ 03:09 PM

ANGUS CHEN

www.npr.org 

hospital bed custom 6b164486756a615b302de54c474c2361d4c33e1f s800 c85 resized 600If you're in the hospital or a nursing home, the last thing you want to be dealing with is bedbugs. But exterminators saying they're getting more and more calls for bedbug infestations in nursing homes, hospitals and doctor's offices.

Nearly 60 percent of pest control professionals have found bedbugs in nursing homes in the past year, according to an industry survey, up from 46 percent in 2013. Bedbug reports in other medical facilities have gone up slightly. Thirty-six percent of exterminators reported seeing them in hospitals, up from 33 percent. Infestations seen in doctors' offices rose from 26 percent to 33 percent in the past two years.

"Nursing homes would be difficult to treat for the simple reason you don't use any pesticides there," says Billy Swan, an exterminator who runs a pest-control company in New York City. That and the fact that there's a lot more stuff. "Somebody's gotta wash and dry all the linens, you know, and all their personal artifacts and picture frames."

Those personal belongings might help account for the big disparity in infestations between nursing homes and hospitals, according to Dr. Silvia Munoz-Price, an epidemiologist at the Medical College of Wisconsin who studies infection control in health care facilities. "The more things you bring with you, the more likely you're bringing bedbugs, if you have a bedbug problem... and you live in a nursing home, so all your things are there."

By contrast, "When bedbugs are located in a hospital, they're usually confined to a couple of hospital rooms," Munoz-Price says.

And it may be easier for hospital staff to spot bedbugs.

"Hospital cleaning staff, nurses, doctors are extremely vigilant," says Jim Fredericks, chief entomologist for the National Pest Management Association, which conducted the survey along with the University of Kentucky. "[Bedbugs] don't go unnoticed for long."

And hospitals are typically brightly lit, routinely cleaned places. It's just much easier to find pests in this setting than in a dark movie theater, where only 16 percent of pest professionals report seeing bedbugs, according to the survey.

Fredericks says the recent multiplication of bedbug reports in medical facilities is just a part of a larger trend. Exterminators have been finding more of the bugs everywhere the parasites are most commonly found like hotels, offices, and homes, where virtually 100 percent of pest control professionals have treated bedbugs in the past year. And they've been popping up in a few unexpected places, too, like a prosthetic leg and in an occupied casket.

"There are a lot of theories as to why they've made a comeback," Fredericks says. It could be differences in pest management practices, insecticide resistance, or just increased travel. "Bottom line is nobody knows what caused it, but bedbugs are back." He falters for a moment. "And they're most likely here to stay."

The good news is bedbugs aren't known to transmit any diseases, and a quick inspection under mattresses or in the odd nook or cranny while traveling can lower the risk of picking the hitchhiking bugs up. Swan says a simple wash or freezing will kill any bedbug. "If you came home, took off all your clothes, put 'em in a bag – you'd never bring a bedbug home," he says. "But who does that?"

At least one reporter might start.

Topics: health, healthcare, nurse, nurses, patients, patient, treatment, hospitals, nursing homes, bed bugs

When You Have The 'Right To Die,' But Don't Want To`

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Tue, May 26, 2015 @ 02:26 PM

By Stephanie O'Neill

www.cnn.com 

150525102957 packer family 2 exlarge 169 resized 600Stephanie Packer was 29 when she found out she has a terminal lung disease.

It's the same age as Brittany Maynard, who last year was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Maynard, of northern California, opted to end her life via physician-assisted suicide in Oregon last fall. Maynard's quest for control over the end of her life continues to galvanize the "aid-in-dying" movement nationwide, with legislation pending in California and a dozen other states.

But unlike Maynard, Packer says physician-assisted suicide will never be an option for her.

"Wanting the pain to stop, wanting the humiliating side effects to go away -- that's absolutely natural," Packer says. "I absolutely have been there, and I still get there some days. But I don't get to that point of wanting to end it all, because I have been given the tools to understand that today is a horrible day, but tomorrow doesn't have to be."

A recent spring afternoon in Packer's kitchen is a good day, as she prepares lunch with her four children.

"Do you want to help?" she asks the eager crowd of siblings gathered tightly around her at the stovetop.

"Yeah!" yells 5-year-old Savannah.

"I do!" says Jacob, 8.

Managing four kids as each vies for the chance to help make chicken salad sandwiches can be trying. But for Packer, these are the moments she cherishes.

Diagnosis and pain

In 2012, after suffering a series of debilitating lung infections, she went to a doctor who diagnosed her with scleroderma. The autoimmune disease causes hardening of the skin and, in about a third of cases, other organs. The doctor told Packer that it had settled in her lungs.

"And I said, 'OK, what does this mean for me?'" she recalls. "And he said, 'Well, with this condition...you have about three years left to live.'"

Initially, Packer recalls, the news was just too overwhelming to talk about with anyone --including her husband.

"So we just...carried on," she says. "And it took us about a month before my husband and I started discussing (the diagnosis). I think we both needed to process it separately and figure out what that really meant."

Packer, 32, is on oxygen full time and takes a slew of medications.

She says she has been diagnosed with a series of conditions linked to or associated with scleroderma, including the auto-immune disease, lupus, and gastroparesis, a disorder that interferes with proper digestion.

Packer's various maladies have her in constant, sometimes excruciating pain, she says, noting that she also can't digest food properly and is always "extremely fatigued."

Some days are good. Others are consumed by low energy and pain that only sleep can relieve.

"For my kids, I need to be able to control the pain because that's what concerns them the most," she adds.

Faith and fear

Packer and her husband Brian, 36, are devout Catholics. They agree with their church that doctors should never hasten death.

"We're a faith-based family," he says. "God put us here on earth and only God can take us away. And he has a master plan for us, and if suffering is part of that plan, which it seems to be, then so be it."

They also believe if the California bill on physician-assisted suicide, SB 128, passes, it would create the potential for abuse. Pressure to end one's life, they fear, could become a dangerous norm, especially in a world defined by high-cost medical care.

"Death can be beautiful"

Instead of fatal medication, Stephanie says she hopes other terminally ill people consider existing palliative medicine and hospice care.

"Death can be beautiful and peaceful," she says. "It's a natural process that should be allowed to happen on its own."

Stephanie's illness has also forced the Packers to make significant changes. Brian has traded his full-time job at a lumber company for that of weekend handyman work at the family church. The schedule shift allows him to act as primary caregiver to Stephanie and the children. But the reduction in income forced the family of six to downsize to a two-bedroom apartment it shares with a dog and two pet geckos.

Even so, Brian says, life is good.

"I have four beautiful children. I get to spend so much more time with them than most head of households," he says. "I get to spend more time with my wife than most husbands do."

And it's that kind of support from family, friends and those in her community that Stephanie says keeps her living in gratitude, even as she struggles with the realization that she will not be there to see her children grow up.

"I know eventually that my lungs are going to give out, which will make my heart give out, and I know that's going to happen sooner than I would like — sooner than my family would like," she says. "But I'm not making that my focus. My focus is today."

Stephanie says she is hoping for a double-lung transplant, which could give her a few more years. In the meantime, next month marks three years since her doctor gave her three years to live.

So every day, she says, is a blessing.

Topics: assisted suicide, Right-to-die, health, healthcare, nurses, doctors, hospitals, medica, medical laws, physician assisted suicide

Time to Prove Hospital Disinfectants Work, FDA Says

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Tue, May 05, 2015 @ 12:21 PM

BY MAGGIE FOX

www.nbcnews.com 

nc handwashin 140130 d2a038564c98deb8fe0d0a9589bd78b7.nbcnews fp 1440 600 resized 600Hospital workers wash their hands hundreds of times a day. Nurses are constantly using alcohol gels, chemical wipes and iodine washes on themselves and on patients.

Now that there's a hand sanitizer dispenser at every hospital room door, it's time to check that they actually do work as well as everyone assumes and that they are safe, the Food and Drug Administration says.

Up until now, FDA's just accepted that these products work as intended and are safe. But now, FDA says, there are tests available to actually prove they do. And because of the emphasis on hospital infections, institutions are using the products far more frequently than even 10 years ago and in many different ways.

So FDA issued a proposed plan Thursday for reclassifying some of the products, and for requiring makers to show they are safe and effective.

"We're not asking for any of these products to come off the market at this time."

In the meantime. FDA says, there's nothing for consumers to worry about and hospitals should continue using the products as they have been.

"What it seems they are doing is good due diligence," says Dr. Susan Dolan of Children's Hospital Colorado and the Association of Professionals in Infection Control.

"They are trying to look at the products, look at how they are being used today, how things have changed," she added.

The FDA proposes new rules making companies submit new studies looking at safety issues such as whether heavy, chronic use of the some of the products may cause them to soak in through the skin, or cause resistant bacteria to evolve.

Products that are not shown to be safe and effective by 2018 would have to be reformulated or taken off the market.

"We're not asking for any of these products to come off the market at this time. We're just asking for additional data," Theresa Michele, a director in FDA's drug center, said in an interview with The Associated Press. "And we're likewise not suggesting that people stop using these products."

Alcohol, iodine benzalkonium chloride and other germ-killers have been used for decades. But not to the degree that they are now.

"Twenty years ago you didn't find people using antiseptic gels 100 times a day. It just didn't happen," Michele said.

FDA points to studies that show some of the products might be absorbed into the body at higher levels than previously thought, showing up in blood and urine. Dolan says not all the studies show this, but it's worthwhile doing more checks.

"It's timely and it makes sense," Dolan said. "I do think consumers should not be worried. These are very effective products."

The FDA last updated its review of health care hand cleaners in 1994.

"They are trying to look at the products, look at how they are being used today, how things have changed."

"We emphasize that our proposal for more safety and effectiveness data for health care antiseptic active ingredients does not mean that we believe that health care antiseptic products containing these ingredients are ineffective or unsafe, or that their use should be discontinued," FDA said in its announcement.

The agency agreed to complete its review after a three-year legal battle with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group that accused the FDA of delaying action on potentially dangerous chemicals. In 2013 the FDA agreed to a legal settlement that included timetables for completing the review of various chemicals, including health care cleaners.

Environmentalists are mainly concerned about an ingredient called triclosan, which is used in most antibacterial soaps marketed to consumers. The agency issued a separate review of triclosan-containing consumer products in late 2013, saying more data are needed to establish their safety and effectiveness.


Topics: FDA, health, safety, nurses, doctors, medical, patients, hospitals, hand sanitizer, disinfectants

FDA Revisits Safety Of Health Care Antiseptics Such As Purell

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, May 01, 2015 @ 11:51 AM

www.foxnews.com 

hand sanitizer istock660 resized 600After roughly 40 years, U.S. health regulators are seeking data to see if the cocktail of ingredients in antiseptics used in hospitals, clinics and nursing homes are as safe and effective as they were once considered.

The Food and Drug Administration said on Thursday it is asking manufacturers for more data, including on absorption, potential hormonal effects and bacterial resistance of thehe 'active' ingredients in antiseptics, to see if they are still appropriate for use in a health care setting.

Since the review of health care antiseptics in the 1970s, things have changed, the FDA noted, alluding to a shift in frequency of use, hospitals' infection control practices, technology and safety standards. (1.usa.gov/1EUrzCd)

An independent panel of experts to the FDA raised similar concerns last year. In 2013, the regulator issued a warning to manufacturers, saying it was aware of at least four deaths and multiple infections caused by over-the-counter antiseptics. (1.usa.gov/1DNxOSp)

Commonly used active ingredients in health care antiseptics include alcohol and iodine. Data suggests that, for at least some of these ingredients, the systemic exposure is higher than previously thought, the agency noted.

"We're going to try to answer their questions in great detail as called for, but we believe the FDA already has sufficient data on these products," said Brian Sansoni, a spokesman for American Cleaning Institute (ACI), a trade association for the cleaning products industry.

The ACI represents antiseptic ingredient and product makers such as Gojo Industries Inc, the maker of Purell hand sanitizers; Dial Corp, a unit of Germany's Henkel (HNKG_p.DE); Ecolab Inc and Steris Corp.

The FDA said no health care antiseptics were going to be pulled off shelves as of now, and that their review excluded home-use antiseptics such as antibacterial soap and hand sanitizers.

The new data request relates only to health care antiseptics covered by the over-the-counter monograph, a kind of "recipe book" covering acceptable ingredients, doses, formulations and labeling. Once a final monograph is implemented, companies can market their product without having to go through the FDA.

Companies will have one year to submit the data, which the FDA will evaluate before determining if the OTC monograph needs to be revised.

"We're concerned if the FDA takes maybe a too narrow view regarding the safety and effectiveness data – depending how the final rule ends up – they could take effective products or ingredients off the shelves," Sansoni said.

Topics: FDA, nursing, nurses, doctors, data, medical, hospital, hospitals, clinics, antiseptics, Purell, sanitizers, nursing homes

The Great American Kidney Swap

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, May 01, 2015 @ 11:41 AM

By 

www.nytimes.com 

03kidney ss slide U201 superJumbo v2 resized 600Before surgeons stitched a kidney from a 32-year-old former Marine into his abdomen in March, Mark Kim spent almost two years on dialysis. He had lot of time to think while hooked up to the machine, three times a week, as it pumped his blood out of his body, purified it and pumped it back in. Sometimes he found himself mulling over how odd it was that a new kidney — the one thing he needed most — was something money couldn’t buy.

When his kidneys first failed him, all sorts of people offered to donate one: his neighbor, his two 20-something nieces, two old friends, his sister. But none could follow through, mostly because of incompatible blood types. Such supply-and-demand mismatches can cause prices to skyrocket in a normal market, and indeed, Kim heard hints about the organ’s economic value along the way. Once, at a backyard barbecue, a woman whispered to him that her mother purchased a kidney on the black market for $100,000.

Despite the crushing demand, the sale of kidneys is banned in every country in the world except Iran. In the U.S., more than 100,000 people with renal failure are on the list for a deceased-donor kidney, typically waiting between four and five years. Last year, 4,270 people died waiting. Few but free-market absolutists would argue for repealing the 1984 law banning the organ trade in the U.S., but most would agree something should be done to increase the supply of kidneys for transplant. In a sense, though, there’s already a global glut: While we are born with two kidneys, we can function just fine with one. The problem is that they’re stuck inside of us.

Kim would have continued to wait on the national list, despite having several willing donors, were it not for a company called BiologicTx. Thanks to its software, Kim was able swap his sister’s kidney for the Marine’s kidney. The Marine, a woman named Liz Torres, gave up her kidney to ensure that her mother got a kidney, which came from a young social worker, Ana Tafolla Rios, who was a better match. Rios passed hers along to secure one for her ailing mother from Keith Rodriguez, a young man from Fresno. He let go of his to procure one for his mom, Norma, a 52-year-old dental assistant with polycystic kidney disease. All these people underwent surgery over two days in March at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, in what is called a kidney-transplant chain. The software programs driving such chains create something like a marketplace for organs — but one where supply and demand are balanced not through pricing but through altruism.

A law-abiding American in need of a kidney has two options. The first is to wait on the national list for an organ donor to die in (or near) a hospital. The second is to find a person willing to donate a kidney to you. More than half the time, such donor-and-recipient pairs are incompatible, because of differences in blood type or the presence, in the donor’s blood, of proteins that might trigger the recipient’s immune system to reject the new kidney. The genius of the computer algorithms driving the kidney chains is that they find the best medical matches — thus increasing the odds of a successful transplant — by decoupling donors from their intended recipients. In the United States, half a dozen of these software programs allow for a kind of barter market for kidneys. This summer, doctors will most likely complete the last two operations in a record-breaking 70-person chain that involved flying donated kidneys on commercial airlines to several hospitals across the country.

Garet Hil, the founder and chief executive of the National Kidney Registry, the largest kidney-chain exchange program in the world, has a background in financial services, not medicine. He borrowed concepts from the brokerage industry when developing the registry’s algorithm. Hil founded the organization after the emotionally grueling experience of obtaining a kidney for his 10-year-old daughter. After seven family members, including Hil and his wife, volunteered to donate theirs, all seven were found to be a poor match. (Eventually they found a compatible cousin.)

Each chain starts with a completely altruistic donor, someone who expects nothing in return. In the case of the San Francisco chain, that person was Zully Broussard, a 55-year-old mental-health nurse who works in a prison. Broussard lost her 21-year-old son to bone-cartilage cancer in 2001. Then, in 2013, her husband died of colon cancer. “I know what it is to want an extra hour, an extra day, with someone you love,” she told me. Directed by the algorithm, Broussard’s kidney ended up inside a complete stranger, a 26-year-old factory worker, Oswaldo Padilla, with a 6-year-old daughter, setting off the 12-person chain that included Kim and his sister and ended with an interior designer named Verle Breschini.

Economists call an arrangement like this a matching market. “It is not fundamental to economic theory to assume people are selfish,” Alvin E. Roth, an economist who teaches at Stanford University, told me. Roth won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2012 for his work using game theory to design matching markets, which pair unmatched things in mutually beneficial ways — students with public schools and doctors with hospitals. In such markets, money does not decide who gets what. Instead, these transactions are more akin to elaborate courtships.

The classic example of a matching market is the college-admissions process. Every year, tens of thousands of students apply to Harvard University. But just because a student wants a spot in the freshman class and can afford tuition does not mean he gets in. Harvard must also wanthim to attend. In the case of kidney exchange, this matchmaking happens at a microcellular level. White blood cells contain genetic markers, proteins that help our immune systems distinguish between our bodies and foreign invaders. The more closely a transplant recipient’s genetic markers match a donor’s, the more likely the body is to adopt that foreign kidney as its own rather than attacking it.

All these genetic variables mean that linking unrelated donors and recipients requires the kind of computational heft humans can’t manage with pen and paper. For example, BiologicTx currently has 72 people in a computer database waiting to give or receive a kidney. Run the software to find biologically compatible matches among those 72 people, and you get 105,716 possible configurations — some long chains, others short. Some people in the database have no possible matches. Others, genetically blessed, have thousands of potential matching options within the pool. The software ranks those possible pairings based on hundreds of different immunological, genetic and demographic criteria, while also aiming to create longer chains of harder-to-match people which will ultimately result in more transplants.

Last year in the United States, 544 kidneys were transplanted through these paired exchange programs, and many other countries are beginning to adopt them. Surgeons in Poland, Italy and Argentina completed their first chains last year. As more donor-and-recipient pairs enroll, the chains can accommodate increasingly complicated transactions. In December, for example, a transplant surgeon at U.C.L.A. removed the kidney from a grandfather who donated on behalf of his young grandson. The boy suffers from chronic kidney disease, but his doctors have determined he does not yet require a transplant. The grandfather feared that if he waited the five or 10 years until the boy needed the kidney, he would be too old to donate. So the boy and his grandfather joined the National Kidney Registry, using the grandfather’s kidney to kick off a chain, thereby securing a kidney for the boy, who will be the last recipient in another chain at some unspecified future date.

Mark Kim had his operation two months ago, and ever since, people have been telling him that his voice seems different, that somehow he sounds more alive. And at a biological level, every cell in his body feels better. But that vitality extends beyond his physical well-being. He is now one link in a visceral chain of sacrifice and benefit. It feels, to him, a little bit like kinship.

Topics: America, health, healthcare, hospitals, transplant, black market, kidney, donors, organ donors

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