News on Nursing in the Media
September 4, 2006 -- Judy Foreman's "Health Sense" column, published today in the Boston Globe and syndicated nationwide, focused on ways to prevent medication errors. "Be sure those pills you're given are the right ones" contains valuable information about how patients and health workers can work to reduce errors. The piece refers in passing to the fact that nurses give and can help to explain medications to patients. But it cites no nursing experts, relying instead on four different physician sources. And it misses the key role nurses play in catching most medication errors--a role that calls upon nurses to be critical thinkers and advocates, not just people who mechanically implement the plans of others, as the piece's description implies. The piece also ignores the extent to which the nursing shortage and the general undervaluation of nursing hampers efforts to reduce drug errors. Short-staffed nurses are less able to catch the errors, detect changes in patient conditions, and provide other care that enables drugs to work safely and well. Underpowered nurses have a harder time advocating for changes in medication plans and medication administration systems. And the piece repeatedly suggests that only "doctors" prescribe drugs, even though most of the over 200,000 U.S. advanced practice nurses regularly do so as well. more...
February 21, 2007 -- If you have been involved in a fatal or near-fatal error practicing nursing, consider joining a confidential support group being set up by Wisconsin nurse Julie Thao. Ms. Thao is the nurse who was charged with criminal neglect (a felony) for making a medication error that resulted in a tragic death last year. Ms. Thao, who has expressed a great deal of remorse, pled no contest in December to two misdemeanors for unlawfully obtaining and dispensing a prescription drug, in exchange for prosecutors dropping the felony charge. Now Ms. Thao is interested in helping others involved in serious errors, which are all too common, as Judy Foreman's September 2006 Boston Globe piece on preventable errors shows. Ms. Thao notes:
The depth of grief and devastation following an error such as this is often compounded by a profound sense of blame and shame, especially if others involved reacted in a punitive way. Despite enormous support from friends, family and many within the healthcare field, I am still faced with a sense of being alone, and that only someone who has been through this could truly understand. We need each other! We need to connect, and show each other that we were able to go on, that this is survivable.
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Get your DVD copies of "Lifeline: The Nursing Diaries--The Rookies" (Part I) by filmmaker Richard Kahn. When we reviewed Part I of the documentary in Dec. 2004, we gave it 4 out of 4 stars for its nursing portrayal. From our review: "Part I gives an unusually good sense of the value of highly skilled nursing. It shows nurses working in three intensive care units at Mass. General: the cardiac surgical intensive care unit (CSICU), the neonatal ICU (NICU), and the surgical ICU (SICU). The episode shows nurses doing so many critical health tasks that the media commonly has physicians doing that it almost seems like it must have been a conscious goal of the filmmakers. However, it may simply be the natural result of taking a comprehensive look at what nurses really do. We see nurses autonomously managing patient care, detecting critical problems, formulating key interventions, explaining things to patients, families, and the viewer, and generally managing recoveries with little physician involvement." Read the full review here. Order a copy of Nursing Diaries Part I for US $10, which includes shipping. We are selling these at cost in order to get the widest possible distribution of this video. To order, please make a $10 payment here.
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Because of the lack of overall understanding worldwide, nurses must sustain a collective effort to shape media portrayals of their work. We must educate society in order to obtain more social, political and financial support. As Florence Nightingale once said:
In our imperfect state of conscience and enlightenment, publicity and the collision resulting from publicity are the best guardians of the interest of the sick.
The Center's global media monitoring, analysis and advocacy is a huge challenge. It takes extensive research, writing, communication, and Internet efforts. We must pay for office equipment, supplies, transportation, Internet products, insurance, postage and telephone costs. Our office is donated by our staff. And our staff can undertake only a small part of the work that needs to be done to improve nursing's image.
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Thank you for all of your support over the past year. You are the reason we've had a real impact on public understanding of nursing worldwide. Together, we can strengthen nursing, and give patients the kind of health care they deserve in 2007 and beyond!
Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
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