Digital technology thus far is pervading and influencing nursing practices. Every nurse today is expected to be able to use knowledge, information, and digital technology to maximize their nursing care and improve efficient ways of working in the health care system. More than 50% of nurses reported using digital technology in their everyday nursing practice. The Future of Healthcare 2022 Hospital Vision Study shows that the use of mobile devices is expected to grow up to 40% for all hospitals across the countries by 2020, and 97% of nurses will use mobile devices at the bedside by 2022.
The culture for nursing care used to be a direct patient contact and care; however, the advancement of digital technology has changed the nursing and medical fields and made patient care more efficient. Both patients and care providers are now able to communicate remotely and access personal health information, lab results, and treatments at any time from their computer or smartphone.
Digital technology has changed the way nurses communicate and collaborate with patients and other health professionals. Nurses are able to schedule and record activities in real-time faster and with more accuracy. As a result, patients who have timely access to health care services can reduce the need for hospital admission and healthcare costs. Digital technology in health care is affordable and deeply engages patients in their treatment and recovery. It also brings opportunity for nurses to provide exceptional levels of care and improve their patients’ quality of life.
Digital technology will continue to evolve and nurses need to keep up with and be ready to utilize that technology and tools to deliver quality nursing care. Here are some tips to help you prepare yourself for improving your digital skills.
1. Be open-minded and change your perspective.
It is important that you see the advantages of digital technology at work and allow yourself to focus on the potential opportunities and positive aspects of technology rather than being inconvenienced.
2. Spend more time to explore and learn.
Write down the topics or skills you want to learn and set a goal. This will help you create a learning plan for yourself that fits both with where you are now and where you want to be next.
3. Talk to your expert colleagues and ask questions.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Asking questions is a sign of being open-minded and motivated to learn. Holding back on asking questions is a missed opportunity.
4. Be patient.
Learning a new technology or new skill can be frustrating and can take time. Be patient and give yourself plenty of breaks to digest and process new information. It is always possible to learn new technologies and skills. All it takes is openness to the experience and willingness to put in the necessary time to acquire new skills.
While nurses need to know how to care for patients who have hepatitis, they must know about hepatitis transmission and take action to protect themselves from hepatitis at work as well. There are several types, including hepatitis A (HAV), B (HBV), C (HCV), D (HDV), and E (HEV). Nurses have a higher exposure to hepatitis—particularly HBV—due to their line of work.
Recent research shows that some (but not all) nurses have knowledge about the mode of transmission as well as an effective prevention strategy. With World Hepatitis Day approaching (July 28), it’s a good time for all nurses to take action to educate and protect themselves. Since hepatitis can cause serious harm to the liver and is the most important etiology of liver cancer, the importance of timely prevention among nurses cannot be overemphasized.
Here are a few of the most important things to know about hepatitis when working as a nurse:
Mode of Transmission
- HAV is usually caused by consuming contaminated food or water, fecal-oral pathway, and oral-anal sexual contact.
- HBV is caused by contact with contaminated blood or other body fluids. The factors found to be significantly related with blood-borne hepatitis are needle-stick injury, attempted recapping of needles, or use of hollow-bore needles.
- HCV is the most common cause of chronic viral hepatitis in the United States and is caused by contact with contaminated blood or other body fluids.
- HDV is also caused by contact with contaminated blood or other body fluids.
- HEV is caused by consuming contaminated food or water and fecal-oral pathway like HAV.
When caring for a patient with hepatitis, preventing transmission to yourself and other patients is of the utmost importance. Here are four key prevention strategies you can to take:
1. Practice universal precautions at all times.
This approach to infection control recommends that you to treat all blood and bodily fluids as if they were infected and avoid direct contact. Always wear gloves if you need to draw blood or perform wound care. If the blood or body fluid spills onto the floor or another surface, it is important to have it cleaned immediately as the virus can survive in dried blood for up to 4 days. Make sure to dispose all items properly before coming into contact with other patients.
2. Practice good personal hygiene.
Practice good personal hygiene through hand washing, as good sanitation can help prevent a hepatitis infection. Always wash hands and use hand sanitizing gel before and after providing care to each patient.
3. Get vaccinated.
Both HAV and HBV can be prevented through a combination vaccine.
4. Follow your hospital’s protocol when caring for patients.
Make sure to refresh or update yourself about the hospital policies and guidelines when you care for infected patients or have potential contact with their blood or bodily fluids.
July is National Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Month and this presents an opportunity for nurses to educate patients to protect themselves from the harmful effects of UV rays. UV rays not only cause skin damage, but also skin cancer and cataracts. There are three types of UV rays. UVC is absorbed by the ozone layer and does not pose any threat. UVA and UVB radiation, however, have long- and short-term negative effects on the immune system, skin, and vision. The main source of UV rays is sunlight, although they can come from man-made sources such as diagnostic X-rays, tanning beds and booths, and phototherapy. Approximately 90-95% of the UV rays from sunlight is UVA, with the remaining 5-10% being UVB.
Summer is here, which means it’s the perfect time to get more physically active and enjoy being outside. Here are four tips to share with patients to help them avoid damage from UV rays.
1. Avoid overexposure to sunlight.
Avoid being outside for long periods in the sun and heat, especially during the peak hours of strongest UV rays, during the hours of 10 am to 4 pm. Overexposure to sunlight is known as the underlying cause for harmful effects on the skin, eyes, and DNA.
2. Apply broad spectrum protection sunscreen before stepping outside.
A sunscreen with SPF 30 can block out 96% of UV rays, while a sunscreen with SPF 50 can block out 98%. Unfortunately, there is no sunscreen that can provide 100% UV protection. Remember to apply a sunscreen 20 minutes before going out in the sun and reapply after two hours because most sunscreens can last for about two hours on the skin.
3. Wear sunglasses that can filter at least 98% of UVA and UVB rays.
Sunglasses with UV coating, or polycarbonate lenses which have built-in UV coverage, can help prevent UV rays. Photochromic lenses are also a good choice. UV rays can cause a development of cataracts, macular degeneration, and retina damage. It is wise to cover skin with loose-fitting clothing and wear a wide-brimmed hat (3-inch or 4-inch brim all around) when out in the sun.
4. Avoid or limit the use of artificial UV light.
Research has shown the risk of malignant melanoma is much higher in people who use tanning beds. The risk of melanoma increases by 75% when indoor tanning devices are used before the age of 30. Avoid using tanning devices to lower the risk of having melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.
Nurses play important roles in all health care access points from hospitals and physicians’ offices to community health centers, school health clinics, nursing homes, and public health departments. Since their roles in patient care across the health system provide significant opportunities to affect health outcomes, nurses at all levels need to open up to new ways of thinking and working to have the confidence and skills to create new ideas and nursing interventions to work on specific issues beyond their typical responsibilities. Here are a few examples of nurses’ innovative thinking: creating a predictive model to prevent hospital readmission by Laura Beth Brown, MSN, RN, president of Vanderbilt Home Care Services; and making pillowcases for patients with cognitive impairments to decrease patient restraint by Jan Bahle, MSN, CNS, and her team at University Hospitals Portage Medical Center in Ravenna, OH.
Innovation consists of enthusiasm and curiosity and innovation comes from creativity. Innovative thinking is not a talent, but it is a skill that needs practicing. Here are four ways to help build your innovative ideas.
1. Build on Existing Questions or Problems.
When developing innovative projects, you need to clearly define the problems that you are attempting to solve and articulate why those issues are important. Always start with the what, why, how, when question and try to answer it. List down each question that comes to mind and determine which one you think is the best. With a thorough understanding of the question or problem you are interested in innovating in, you will have a sharper eye in recognizing possibilities and be more skillful in connecting different ideas together.
“If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it” —Albert Einstein
2. Think Outside the Box.
Encourage yourself to be open to new ideas without setting limiting beliefs. You should write down your thoughts and ideas into your journal or scrapbook, as this will help you keep track of your thoughts and can even stimulate your thought processes and lead to one new idea after another. Creative thinking does not require you to follow all the time; creativity is about how you associate different ideas and facts—look for the unconventional and embrace the difference.
Make the commitment to focus on the present and not let it wander from one thought to another. Do not be afraid of failure. Instead, see mistakes as opportunities or learning process for achieving your innovation.
4. Build a Network.
Strike up conversations with different people and listen to their unique perspectives, which may help you reconstruct your ideas. You may not believe that the greatest insights often come from our interactions with people who hold views opposite from ours. Also, do not forget to have fun with your colleagues as this is a proven and common way to generate ideas.
June 27th is National HIV Testing Day and this brings an opportunity for all nurses across the nation to spread the word about the importance of getting an HIV test and to encourage patients and their family members to stay in care, and to support HIV prevention.
According to the CDC, approximately 1 in 7 people in the United States who have HIV do not know they have it. Getting HIV testing is the only way to know whether a patient has HIV. Knowing HIV status is crucial to keep patients and their family members healthy. The CDC has recommended that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should get an HIV testing as part of their routine health care.
Here are four key things nurses can do to help support HIV prevention.
1. Inform patients and their family members about where to get HIV testing.
There are several testing services, health centers, and other resources that provide HIV testing. Patients can easily find HIV testing and care services through the HIV Testing Sites & Care Services Locator, or they can call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636). Getting tested for HIV regularly (at least once a year) is an important part of good sexual health.
2. Educate patients about the window period for HIV test.
The window period is time between potential exposure to HIV infection and the point when the test will give an accurate result. The window period can be from 10 days to 3 months, depending on individuals and types of HIV tests. Patients who test HIV-negative during the window period will need a follow-up test after the window period to confirm the results.
3. Encourage people at higher risk to get tested more often.
HIV can affect anyone regardless of sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, gender, or age. However, certain groups are at higher risk for HIV, for example, sexually active gay and bisexual men and injection drug users. These groups may benefit from more frequent testing (for example, every 3 to 6 months).
4. Encourage patients living with HIV to prevent passing disease to others.
There are many actions that patients can take to lower their risk of transmitting HIV to their partner or family members. HIV can spread by contact with infected blood, semen, or vaginal secretions or from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breast-feeding. Here are some examples to prevent passing HIV: taking medicines to treat HIV infection, using a new condom every time they have sex, telling their sexual partners that they have HIV, and encouraging their partners who are HIV-negative to get tested for HIV regularly.
As nurses, we have an important role to play, regardless of the area of expertise, in promoting prevention, testing, and early treatment of HIV.