NPR’s Last Story on Nurse Safety: VA Is the Hero

This is the script for the fourth installment of Daniel Zwerdling’s amazing series on injured nurses.  It shows that hospital systems can act to protect nurses if they have the will to do so.  The VA has done it again, prove that it delivers some of the best care anywhere.  The national VHA system not only provides quality care for patients, as I am discovering in my months’ long observation of the VA for a book I am writing on VA healthcare.  It provides superior care for staff.  Why don’t all other hospitals follow this model?

nurses-va-91-edit_custom-64cfb8c6dee5b04485ef2c9bb3207ad3a206593e-s1500-c85Special Series
Injured Nurses
At VA Hospitals, Training And Technology Reduce Nurses’ Injuries
February 25, 2015 4:33 PM ET
Daniel Zwerdling 2013

To safely lift Bernard Valencia out of his hospital bed, Cheri Moore uses a ceiling lift and sling. The VA hospital in Loma Linda, Calif., has safe patient handling technology installed throughout its entire facility.

To safely lift Bernard Valencia out of his hospital bed, Cheri Moore uses a ceiling lift and sling. The VA hospital in Loma Linda, Calif., has safe patient handling technology installed throughout its entire facility. Continue reading

Atul Gawande and Palliative Care

k13613741      As I have been reading Atul Gawande’s  new book Being Mortal, I am fascinated by the fact that it has taken this surgeon so long to discover the realities of the human condition, the fact that aging and death really isn’t optional and that there should be a better way. (Reading Gawande, I am reminded of esteemed physician Arnold Relman’s semi-deathbed realization that nurses are actually important to patient care and that physicians rarely talk to their patients, see my blogpost on this). Even though his discussion of the palliative care/hospice option may prove to help Americans understand that there is an alternative to the torturous American way of death, there is a serious problem with a model of medical philosophizing.   These reflection rely far too much on personal experience and not enough on the ability of physicians to reflect on the scientific facts (that so many of the treatments MDs recommend are, in fact, futile) or on a close observation of their patient’s experience (which would clearly highlight the torturous nature of so many modern medical treatments).

Listen to our first HIIPcast

We would like to welcome you to the first of what we hope will be many HIIPcasts. Our team is committed to using podcasts to get the word out about exciting innovations and concepts that will allow people to embrace, practice, and promote healthcare safety and quality. Think of this as a kind of patient safety radio whose goal is to play it forward. Our first podcast is a conversation between HIIP founding team members Suzanne Gordon and John Chuo. Please check out our website to learn more about both of us.

In the coming months we will record conversations that explore critical healthcare issues and inform you about new books, articles, and other forms of media which advance quality care and safety. The goal here is to highlight initiatives, people or projects that can transform the way we think about, deliver, and receive healthcare services. We invite you to click, listen, and pass it on and to send us any suggestions you might have for interesting subjects, people, or projects.

Another Story on Nurses’ Injuries by NPR’s Daniel Zwerdling

imagesOnce again, the issue of nurses’ injuries is the focus on Daniel Zwerdling’s second installment of a series on the injuries of nurses and other hospital staff.  This story focuses on the myth of proper lifting techniques.  For years, those looking into the proper body mechanics during lifting have documented that there is no safe way to lift a heavy patient safely without proper equipment.  Studies show that you can’t lift a trim adult safety.  Nurses and nursing assistants today are asked to deal with a population that is 70% overweight — many weighing 300 pounds or more.  Yet nursing schools, perhaps in an inadvertent but nonetheless dangerous alignment with hospitals, teach nurses that you can lift patients with “proper body mechanics” or  “proper alignment.”  William Marras at The Spine Research Institute at the University of Ohio has challenged this myth in years of research.  People have to listen to this series.  Particularly those who teach nurses and employ them.  It is not only financially nuts to turn nurses into patients as they take care of patients.  It’s also morally unacceptable.  Nursing schools have got to get on the … Continue reading

Injured Nurses Story on NPR

imagesEveryone should check out the new series on NPR by Daniel Zwerdling on Injured nurses.  It’s running all month.  I have the honor of helping Danny on this series.  He spent months and months delving into this very serious problem and has produced a great series.  His first section focuses on Kaiser and its failure to act to protect nurses.  Lift equipment should be a non-negotiable in every hospital.  Patients are getting heavier and heavier and nurses are now being asked to lift patients who weight hundreds of pounds.  Remember it’s not safe to lift even fifty pounds without help.  I was once in a hospital that put out a call asking nurses to lift an 800 pound man.  We never see people that obese walking down the street, but they are patients in our nation’s hospitals.

As Zwerdling points out:

“According to surveys by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are more than 35,000 back and other injuries among nursing employees every year, severe enough that they have to miss work. Nursing assistants and orderlies each suffer roughly three times the rate of back and other … Continue reading