A Doc’s Best Friend: Nurses

A nurse at her station. Photo by goodcatmum (Wikimedia Commons).

Nine hospitals in the San Francisco Bay Area have cut their death rates from sepsis by 40% over a 2-year period. Not from using any fancy, new, expensive pieces of equipment. It wasn’t rocket science, just a concerted effort to train staff to better recognize the problem, identify patients at highest risk for sepsis, and follow existing protocols. Simple things like having nurses perform more diligent screening for sepsis in patients in the emergency department.

The proportion of patients with sepsis who died decreased from 28% in the 6 months before the 2-year program to 17% at the end of the study, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The project was led by the University of California, San Francisco’s Integrated Nurse Leadership Program. This is not the first time the Program has produced impressive results. A 3-year program reported in 2009 that it had cut medication errors at six Bay Area hospitals by 88%, achieving a 98% accuracy in medication administration. Again, the success was largely due to simple steps such as new ways of ensuring that nurses are not interrupted while giving medications. See this Chronicle photo of the vest that nurses don when dealing with medications, for example.

And this is not the first example I’ve seen of nurse empowerment and impressive doctor-nurse collaboration at UCSF. For many years I’ve covered the Ob.Gyn. Departments’ Antepartum and Intrapartum Management meeting. The conference is run collaboratively by doctors and certified nurse-midwives, and is attended by huge numbers of both. The respect that they have for each other in their work is clearly demonstrated in way they interact during the meeting. I’ve encountered no other conference like it in 20 years of medical reporting.  

Seems to me that UCSF has cultivated a strong culture of doctor-nurse collaboration. I’m sure it varies from department to department, but it’s still impressive.

What’s it like at your hospital? Do nurses lead (alongside doctors) in improving patient care? Is there a collaborative culture? Have you had similar successes that you can share with us?

— Sherry Boschert (on Twitter  @SherryBoschert)

1 Comment

Filed under Drug And Device Safety, Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, Hospital and Critical Care Medicine, IMNG, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology

One response to “A Doc’s Best Friend: Nurses

  1. While we don’t have actual nurses during our practice, I can say that nurses definetely hold any hospital together. Most medical mistakes are usually discovered and corrected by nurses. I’m not taking about mistakes that are a result of poor education or carelessness. I mean mistakes that happen because you forgot to add a decimal point which can lead to deadly consequences. Any doctor worth his white coat knows that nurses are important.

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