Better Utilization of Nurses Will Benefit Seniors’ Recovery

Better Utilization of Nurses Will Benefit Seniors’ Recovery

It may not be National Nurses Week (that’s in May), but it’s always a good time to acknowledge how crucial nursing is in the welfare of patients. But despite the important function nurses serve in aiding patients’ recovery during hospitalizations, their duties have progressively migrated from that patient-focused role. Asked to assume many more administrative, clerical, and adjunctive tasks, direct patient care time has been considerably reduced. Recently, however, hospitals are making new efforts to better utilize nurses’ skills and redirecting them back to more patient-related time.
An article in the Wall Street Journal showcased a hospital system based in North Carolina that is undertaking this important switch. The Novant Health group conducted an internal audit of nursing utilization in 2010 in and found nurses only spent 2.5 hours of their 12-hour shift at patients’ bedsides doing direct care. Since the readjustment of nursing priorities, by 2013 Novant reported that 6.5 hours was devoted to patients, with an end goal of 8.5 hours by 2015.

Some of the work taking nurses away from patient care was found to be tracking down missing test results, getting medications, copious amounts of paperwork to be filled out, and simply looking for supplies. One nurse followed for the article spent precious time trying to find a battery for a piece of equipment. As hospitals and other medical facilities try to hold down costs, it doesn’t make economic sense to use the highly-skilled training and expense of professional nurses for routine tasks. Many of these are being shifted to nursing assistants or finding simple solutions like having pharmacies deliver medications directly to patients’ floors.

Benefits to Seniors
As the population ages, hospitalized patients are sicker and have multiple health issues affecting their ability to recover and be prepared for discharge. Hospitalizations are shorter with more focus on follow-up care, making patient education and more direct interaction with nursing even more fundamental. Hospital stays are also expected to be reduced to cut costs with more focus on follow-up care, making patient education and more direct interaction with nursing even more fundamental.

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