South Florida Hospital News
Sunday May 26, 2019
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May 2008 - Volume 4 - Issue 11

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A Salute to Nurses

It is once again a time to pay tribute to those who touch our lives in more ways than anyone can imagine. Through the years, nurses have been and will continue to be a pivotal component in the delivery of healthcare. Because of their education and vast experience, nurses have the ability to use their clinical expertise and critical thinking skills to save lives, prevent complications, minimize suffering, and save healthcare dollars, while helping patients and family members cope.

With cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States, a ‘salute’ to nurses would not be complete without special attention to those working in the cardiovascular specialty. At Corazon, we are fortunate to travel throughout the country meeting and working with nurses in order to improve their cardiovascular programs. Whether working as bedside care-givers or in an administrative role, we believe these nurses have the ability to positively influence care and improve outcomes for the cardiovascular patient.

Today, nurses can use many sources to determine the most optimal way to deliver evidence-based practice. They should combine their own research efforts with outcome and benchmark data from the American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, Society of Thoracic Surgery, Society of Chest Pain Centers, and others. This approach can help nurses identify and implement best practice compliance tools like pathways for chest pain, congestive heart failure, acute coronary syndrome, and open heart surgery, to name a few.

Corazon believes that cardiovascular nurses can affect overall quality of care based on their role in the entire patient experience from pre-admission to discharge. Nurses can gather pertinent information during a patient’s initial encounter, implement patient-management protocols, monitor and adjust therapies, conduct patient education, and provide follow-up after discharge. This integrated approach has proven successful with many service lines or even sub-specialty programs. For example, hospitals that have nurses working with physicians to oversee their heart failure program have seen fewer HF admissions and better treatment outcomes, likely because the nurses are closely involved and are able to alter medications while monitoring patients’ clinical status.

Keeping ahead of the curve with the latest cardiovascular technology, equipment, and practice advances will best prepare nurses for the daily care delivery challenges in our dynamic industry. In the acute care setting, nurses can use their critical thinking skills, along with advanced technology, to determine appropriate treatment modalities, which can positively impact a patient’s outcome and length of stay. For example, nurses who work with physicians to develop protocols for medication changes and activity benchmarks can streamline care. Instead of waiting for physician approval, the nurse can initiate treatment using the appropriate protocols under physician oversight.

Ensuring the utmost in quality care is an essential activity for all nurses. However, in many hospitals we have seen how nurses can work to further enhance care delivery by continually evaluating, monitoring, and reporting outcomes data to a hospital-wide cardiovascular committee. Savvy nurses who establish clinical dashboards with "real-time" data reporting enable the entire healthcare team to identify areas of success and areas needing improvement. Real-time data also allows the team to make changes quickly and efficiently, thus improving the clinical outcomes of patients. Nurses can then spearhead improvement efforts with close attention to performance indicators.

In summary, nurses are indeed the frontline care-givers who become the ‘face’ of the hospital for the patient. But, we must not overlook their role behind the scenes, wherein they can impact quality, efficiency, and cost. Whatever role they play, we salute these caregivers for their dedication and contributions!

Lorraine Buck is a Senior Consultant at Corazon, a national leader in specialized consulting, management resources, and recruitment services for heart and vascular program development. For more information, call (412) 364-8200 or visit www.corazoninc.com.
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