The Deadly Threat of Pandemic Nursing

Pandemic Nursing is a new term that describes nursing care that is rushed, physically overwhelming, and emotionally draining and provided to an onslaught of critically ill patients.  There are numerable contributing factors and adverse results related to Pandemic Nursing.  I have witnessed firsthand in the halls of long-term care facilities and recognize the toll this environment is having on the nurses.  The frantic, adrenalin pumping reaction to the disaster of the day, coupled with total exhaustion.   Working in a Pandemic Nursing environment is a direct threat to patient safety. Is your facility working under Pandemic Nursing conditions?  To assess the risk, answer these questions: Is the pace of work hectic? Is the station and records frequently disorganized? Have there been financial strains on the facility? Is there a shortage of staff? Has the nurse-to-patient ratios fluctuated higher? Has the level of care the patients require increased? Is the facility having difficulty recruiting and retaining staff? Add to this list of struggles the increased daily workload of, continuous donning of PPE, increased discharges and emergencies, isolated and depressed patients and constant testing and swabbing. Unfortunately, the results of practicing Pandemic Nursing are bad patient outcomes.  A recent article by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices reported an increase of serious increased medication errors coupled with a trend by nurses to try



5 tips for nurses to help Reduce Med Errors

5 Tips to reduce Med Errors  More than 60% of medication errors are caused by poor communication.  The first step in reducing medication errors should be promoting effective communication among physicians, pharmacists and nurses.  When in doubt, nurses need to be confident and ask questions.  A quick call to the pharmacy can be a valuable resource for nurses to clarify a doctor’s order. The Joint Commission and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices have published a list of high-alert medications.  These high risk medications include potassium chloride, insulin, IV pain drugs and blood thinners. Errors can occur at any point in the healthcare system.  Acknowledging that errors happen, learning from them and working to prevent future errors is a shift from blame and punishment to analysis of causes of errors and making changes to improve. 5 tips for long-term care facilities Know the 5’R’s Inform patients of the reason for all medications Work as a team with doctors and pharmacists Be confident in questioning medication orders Report medication errors   Right Time Right Patient Right Medicine Right Dose Right Route