Tag Archives: Nursing

Health care ballot measures challenge reporters to separate fact from fiction

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Newslighter via Flickr 

In California, an initiative known as Proposition 8 asks voters to limit the revenue that kidney dialysis clinics can earn. The proposition pits health care unions against the large companies that run dialysis centers.

In Massachusetts, a ballot question asks voters to consider a proposal to limit how many patients a hospital can assign to each registered nurse at hospitals and other health care facilities. Continue reading

New AARP report looks at onus on spousal caregivers

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Image by Tammy Strobel via flickr.

Image by Tammy Strobel via flickr.

A new report from the The United Hospital Fund and AARP Public Policy Institute finds that spouses who act as the primary family caregiver routinely perform complex medical and nursing tasks without adequate in-home support from health care professionals, especially when compared with non-spousal family caregivers.

Eighty-four percent of spousal care recipients received no professional health care on site, compared to 65 percent of non-spousal care recipients. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of spouses who are caregivers perform many of the tasks that health care professionals do – such as medication management, wound care, using meters and monitors, compared to 42 percent of nonspousal caregivers.

Compounding the challenge, spouses were also less likely to receive help from family or friends or home care aides: 58 percent of the spouses reported no additional help from others, compared to 20 percent of nonspouses. Continue reading

NICHE program focuses on geriatric care from nursing perspective

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Image by pennstatenews via flickr.

Is your local hospital a NICHE facility?

Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders is a nurse-driven program aiming to improve quality of in-patient care for older adults through its focus on geriatric issues, staff competence, and hospital-wide protocols for geriatric care.

The NICHE program provides facilities with the latest training, tools, and resources, including evidence-based protocols, to improve clinical outcomes, enhance nursing competencies, boost patient satisfaction, and better support their communities.

According to the organization, hospitals that obtain NICHE designation demonstrate the leadership, organizational commitment and cultural competency to achieve patient-centered care.

The program began at the NYU College of Nursing in the early 1980s and grew to some 450 participating hospitals and acute care facilities in the United States and Canada.  Institutions develop and implement their own changes in nurse-driven geriatric care using NICHE-provided tools, resources, project management approaches and best practice solutions, from medication safety to family communication, to catheter removal.

Two issues on a collision course make initiatives like NICHE valuable. Continue reading

Lawsuit reveals failures in hospital hiring practices

Andrew Van Dam

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.

St. Petersburg Times reporter Curtis Krueger’s story about a successful whistleblower suit against a Florida hospital provides a powerful storyline about how disciplined health care workers continue to get hired. Here, he skips the government agencies and state databases and looks at communication between the hospitals themselves.

After all, don’t hospitals consult references and do background checks when hiring new doctors and nurses? In the corporate world of major hospitals, the answer is apparently “yes, but it doesn’t seem to do any good.”

… in general, (Beth Hardy, a spokeswoman for Morton Plant Mease Hospitals) said, if a hospital calls seeking information about a former employee, the company will simply confirm the worker’s dates of employment and last position held. She said that is “a standard and accepted policy across a lot of large organizations.”

The whistleblower suit itself, which resulted in a $450,000 award, involved a nursing supervisor who was fired soon after she criticized nurse Bernard M. Moran for falsifying records, a practice which got him fired at a previous job. Moran now works at another area hospital, one which says it checks the disciplinary records of all new hires.

The story only came to light because of the lawsuit. To understand just how many blind eyes were turned toward Moran’s behavior during this series of events, just take a look at Krueger’s story.

(Hat tip to Health News Florida)

Calif. finds 3,500 nurses were disciplined elsewhere

Andrew Van Dam

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.

California’s nursing board has confirmed what fans of Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber’s disciplined caregivers series for ProPublica and the Los Angeles Times already suspected, that about 3,500 California nurses had clean records there despite being disciplined in other states. You can find Ornstein and Weber’s report on these developments at ProPublica or the LA Times.

After last year’s report by ProPublica and The Times, California ran its list of 376,000 active and inactive nurses against a database maintained by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, to which nearly all states voluntarily report their disciplinary actions. Among the matches were nurses who had been disciplined by multiple states, sometimes for the same incident.

California officials said they couldn’t disclose the names of any nurses who turned up in the search until a formal disciplinary charge is filed. While those cases are pending, the nurses remain free to practice in California.

Of the 3,500 nurses whose records matched, “as many as 2,000 … will face discipline in California, officials estimate,” Ornstein and Weber write. “That’s more registered nurses than the state has sanctioned in the last four years combined.”

Selden Ring finalists explored nurses, caregivers

Pia Christensen

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.