Benefits of Having a Nurse On Staff

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Benefits of Having a Nurse On Staff

Have you known of an ill client who is discharged from the hospital with four separate orders from four different doctors for the same lab test? When it’s time to draw the blood work with no nurse on staff, the facility staff doesn’t figure out the overlap and the client ends up getting poked with needles four different times for the same test.

Not a joke, this is in fact a true story. The saddest part is that this happens all the time.

Guardians often have clients with long lists of complex medical issues that require regular and ongoing monitoring monthly, weekly, or even daily. These clients generally need to receive coordinated care quickly before their condition declines. When multiple diagnosis are involved, the client may have many different physicians and health care providers. This is often when communication breakdowns occur (as with the story above).

So, what is a guardian to do, especially if the guardian is not a RN and lacks extensive medical care knowledge?

Image Credit: timefornurses

Hire a Nurse

It is typically the Guardian of the Person’s job to consent to medical treatment for a client. But if that Guardian is communicating to the physicians and medical staff in laymen’s terms, they may be getting half the story and could be doing the client a disservice.

For example, what does it mean when the doctor says that the client needs a blood transfusion because their h&h was low? In laymen’s terms it means that the client needs blood to resolve a blood “anemia” issue because of a low blood count.

However this isn’t all there is to the story. There is more to know about why this occurred in the first place. Is there a potential cause for bleeding, like a GI bleed? Is a medication causing this? Could this be caused by cancer? Do recent labs also show a lowered blood count? Does the client have a history of anything that could be causing this?

These are just a few of the questions a guardian should be considering whenever a medical procedure presents itself. However, without a healthcare background, it is unlikely that the Guardian will know the many pieces of relevant medical information that may help the doctors better determine the best course of treatment.

If and when feasible, guardians may want to consider hiring a geriatric nurse to help them navigate the terminology of the medical world.

Having a nurse on staff can help a guardian in many ways. First, the nurse can review medical information and can help the guardian better understand what’s being proposed by the doctors, and what the client’s options are.

Additionally, the nurse can help coordinate multiple physicians, staying on top of ever changing orders and tests. The nurse can also review medications to ensure that there isn’t a conflict between meds, something that often gets lost in the shuffle of multiple health providers.

Having a nurse on staff can be a valuable asset to guardians, particularly when that guardian has little medical expertise.

Have Ongoing Communication with Health Professionals

For many guardians, it just isn’t feasible to hire a nurse. If this is the case, increased communication with health professionals can help the client avoid unnecessary procedures and hospitalizations.

Imagine this typical scenario: It’s Friday morning, 9 a.m. The facility calls to say the client fell and is complaining of pain but has full range of motion. Because it’s Friday, mobile x-rays done after 5 p.m. will be slow to return results. Additionally, the second shift nurse, who is often a weekend temp, might call the on-call provider upon seeing the client is in pain. Not familiar with the client, the doctor will suggest the client go to the ER not knowing the mobile exam results are pending.

When faced with this situation (or a similar one) the Guardian may want to consider being proactive and opening the lines of communications with the health providers involved.

Consider contacting the facility and request x-rays early in the day to determine if there is an actual break or if the client is just sore. Additionally, place a quick call to the on-call physician and explain the situation, client’s history, preferred treatment (if known), and any important contact information for the guardian in case a call is placed by the second shift nurse after hours.

Check with the client’s regular physician and determine if you can call them after hours to keep them updated on the client’s status, particularly when the client is dealing with a major illness or decline.

While an on-staff nurse can usually facilitate and coordinate this a lot quicker, simply keeping the lines of communication open for all parties involved, even if when the Guardian doesn’t fully understand the illness or problem, can go a long way in being proactive for the client.

However, having a nurse on staff can provide the extra advantage to the Guardian. Not only can a nurse coordinate and oversee ongoing care, but they can help arrange immediate medical care when needed, potentially preventing unnecessary procedure and hospital runs and alleviating stress on the client.



00a7e40This blog is shared by Theresa Barton, the expert behind The Guardian Network with more than 25 years of experience in the field of Elder Advocacy, Care Management and Guardianship. Learn more about Theresa’s work and resources for families, caregivers and health, support and legal professionals here.




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