Tag Archives: nurses

Navigators work to keep patients from falling through cracks

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Patient navigators – “like the air traffic controllers in health care” – captured the attention of Pamela Fayerman of the Vancouver Sun.

Fayerman explains that patient navigators are specially trained health care providers who help patients get access to care and services they need, serve as liaisons between patients and doctors and generally ensure patients don’t fall through the cracks of a complex health care system.

Fayerman’s five-day, multiplatform series on patient navigators was published last week and is a comprehensive look at this relatively new practice being applied to Canadian patients. She explores the roots of patient navigation in Harlem and goes on to document the evolution in Canada over the past decade.

In a story about one patient, Fayerman shows how the role of a navigator in getting efficient treatment, follow up and having a point of contact got the patient into the hospital for triple bypass surgery before she had a heart attack and sustained damage to her heart.

Other stories look at how navigators bring a culturally sensitive approach to treating members of the aboriginal community, as well as the unwillingness of Canadians to pay out of pocket for navigators, but:

In the U.S., where people are used to paying for health care, navigators are becoming more and more common – in both insured and non-insured settings and at for-profit and non-profit hospitals.

Fayerman, who used a $20,000 grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, visited five provinces and 12 cities over eight months, interviewing nurse and other navigators, their patients and health system leaders. She explains why the series is important and how patients can be their own navigators.

Member’s book for nurses is published

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Anatomy of Writing for Publication for Nurses,” written by AHCJ member Cynthia Saver, R.N., M.S., has been published by Sigma Theta Tau International. Saver is the president of CLS Development Inc., an editorial consulting firm.

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ProPublica guides reporters to check local boards

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

For those of you who have followed the ongoing investigation ProPublica’s Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber have done into nurses and whether states are reporting disciplinary actions, you might have a chance to localize the story.

ProPublica has posted a guide, “Reporting Recipe: How You Can Investigate Your State’s Oversight of Its Nurses and Other Licensed Professionals,” to help reporters and the public check up on what’s happening in their states.

ProPublica editor-in-chief Paul Steiger and managing editor Stephen Engelberg, explain why they are providing the reporters’ techniques and insights:

We hope that others will use the techniques created by Ornstein and Weber to hold local officials accountable. Reporters who look into the local boards that oversee nurses or other health professionals will make new discoveries, some of which will undoubtedly go beyond what we have found. That, in turn, will help others push the story ahead. We hope statehouse reporters, beat reporters, general assignment reporters, bloggers, citizen journalists and others will use this road map.

Use the state-by-state guide prepared by Ornstein (also president of AHCJ’s board of directors) and Weber that shows what information is available to the public in each state and specific things to look for in the records.

They have used the data to identify some states that appear to be  inconsistent in reporting disciplinary actions against medical professionals. If you are covering any of these states, you should probably be looking into the story yourself:

  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinios
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • New Jersey
  • Ohio
  • Tennessee
  • Wisconsin
  • West Virginia

Nurses face dangers of workplace violence

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Marlene A. Prost, writing for Human Resource Executive Online, reports that workplace violence is a growing problem for nurses.

She cites reports from Australia and the United States showing that about half of nurses in two surveys had been punched or otherwise assaulted in the past year. It appears the assaults are coming from patients and their families and friends.nurse

However, Prost reports, nursing and hospital associations are taking notice and action, such as “improving security, encouraging incident reports and fighting to strengthen state laws to prevent violence and punish offenders.”

Hospitals are using guidelines from The Joint Commission, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to make nurses safer. They also are training nurses to defuse volatile situations and encouraging them to report incidents, according to the article.

Reporters may be able to find more information through the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the American Nurses Association also has information about workplace violence. The Joint Commission issued a Sentinel Event Alert in 2008 about intimidating and disruptive behaviors in the health care environment.

Selden Ring finalists explored nurses, caregivers

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Two stories about caregivers were finalists for the 2010 Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting:

  • “When Caregivers Harm,” a collaboration between Maloy Moore of the Los Angeles Times and Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber of ProPublica, exposed significant flaws in the oversight of California nurses with disciplinary problems.
  • Trust Betrayed,” a series produced by Sally Kestin, Peter Franceschina and John Maines of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, revealed inadequate screening of caregivers with criminal histories.

The award, with a $35,000 prize, recognizes published investigative reporting that has brought results.

Nurses push to make up for physician shortages

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Kaiser Health News’ Andrew Villegas reports that the nation’s 125,000-plus nurse practitioners (and physician assistants, certified nurse midwives and dental therapists) are stepping up to fill the void created by America’s shortage of primary care physicians.

The Association of American Medical Colleges projects that the shortage of primary care physicians will reach 46,000 by 2025 and it will only increase if health care reform efforts succeed and millions of Americans are added to the ranks of the insured, Villegas writes. Nurse practitioners typically handle basic services such as physical exams, common health issues and some drug prescriptions.

Debate over national health overhaul legislation has heightened the sense of urgency about primary care and given nurses ammunition for their argument. “The biggest group of clinicians that will be in shortage with universal (insurance) coverage will be those who provide primary care — and that’s what nurse practitioners are so extraordinarily good at,” says Mary Mundinger, dean of the Columbia University School of Nursing.

There is precedent: Massachusetts’ 2008 health insurance overhaul recognized the 5,600 nurse practitioners as primary care providers who would be reimbursed through private insurance and Medicaid at the same rates as doctors. The nurses, however, must work under written protocols that designate a physician who can provide medical direction.

Despite questions from the American Medical Association, proponents argue that practitioners, who are typically required to have a master’s degree in nursing and work under a doctor’s supervision, know their limits and have proven their competence and effectiveness over several decades.