Successful nurse-led initiatives, HHS grants bolster calls for expanded nurse role

A series of nurse-led initiatives in Indiana improved patient outcomes and is projected to save healthcare organizations in the state more than $5.2 million, lending credence to calls for expanded responsibilities for nurses, according to Infection Control Today.

The American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) developed the initiatives to help bedside nurses take a lead role in patient care. Nurses from six Indianapolis hospitals, the first cohort of 42 hospitals nationwide that have participated in the program rollout, report that the initiatives helped them: 

  • Improve patient satisfaction by as much as 20 percent;

  • Reduce stays in the pediatric intensive care unit (ICU) by 0.5 days;

  • Cut incidences of patient falls and hospital-acquired device-related nose and mouth pressure ulcers by more than 50 percent;

  • Decrease overall pressure ulcers by more than 60 percent; and

  • Drop mechanical ventilation days for ICU patients by 0.44 days.

In addition, the nurses reported zero new infection-related ventilator-associated complications.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced $55.5 million in grants to strengthen the healthcare workforce, $45.4 million of which will support nursing development programs--including low-interest loans for nurse training, diversity-improvement efforts, increased nurse anesthetist traineeships and funding for advanced nursing programs.

The grant comes in the wake of two studies from the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services examining healthcare providers' preparedness for nursing reform. 

The first study found that only 25 percent of institutions surveyed required nurses to earn a bachelor of science in nursing within a period of time, despite the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report's recommendation that 80 percent of the nursing workforce obtain the degree by 2020, according to Newswise.

The second study focused on nurse residency programs, another recommendation of the IOM report. Researchers found that 37 percent of hospitals offered such programs in 2011, but only one-fifth of those received external funding for them. The primary reasons hospitals did not maintain residencies were financial and staff constraints, according to the article.

The studies were conducted in response to a 2010 IOM report recommending the removal of scope of practice restrictions on nurses to address the provider shortage.

To learn more:
- here's the Infection Control Today article
- read the HHS announcement
- check out the Newswise article