Registered nurses are a force for change

Registered nurses are a force for change

A Nursing Call to Action - CNA’s National Expert Commission Report suggests a fundamental shift in how health and health care is funded, managed and delivered in Canada - READ THE FULL REPORT

Put nurses in charge for better, cheaper health care - report

An expanded role for Canada's nurses would result in better care for more patients and significant cost savings for the health system, a report done for the Canadian Nursing Association and released today says.

The report, A nursing call to action, was prepared by the independent National Expert Commission in advance of the Canadian Nurses Association's National Biennial Convention in Ottawa, which begins today and lasts until June 20.

"We have had a physician-led model of health care . . . for the past 50 years that has focused on episodic acute care," the report argued, quoting research commissioned for the NEC by Browne, Birch and Thabane.

The research concluded it is time that Canada test a "nurse-led, proactive, targeted model of comprehensive chronic care with a physician as a member of the team," whereby the nurse, as opposed to the physician, would be in charge of enlisting the necessary health and social services based on an individual's treatment needs.

It cited examples such as a post-operative wellness model established by a clinical nurse specialist that helped Royal Columbian Hospital's cardiac surgery department to move from helping 300 patients to 800 patients per year.

The report stated that one of the things the model, established by Jocelyn Reimer-Kent, accomplished was to take a proactive stance to controlling pain, nausea and food intake, enabling post-operative patients to be discharged much more quickly without feeling they are being "pushed out" of hospital too soon.

Additionally, a complex chronic disease management clinic in Calgary where nurses were given a leadership role was cited in the report as reducing by a quarter the number of hospital admissions and by half the length of hospital stay of those who required admission.

The report also emphasized that research shows a link between higher nurse staffing levels and lives saved in hospitals. In particular, this meant "reduced hospital-related mortality, hospital-acquired pneumonia, unplanned extubation, failure to rescue, bloodstream infections acquired in the hospital, and length of stay."

Although the report stated "the human value [of these achievements] cannot be calculated," it estimated an average of $224,000 was added to the Canadian economy per life saved, based on the idea that individuals whose deaths were prevented by higher nurse staffing levels would go on to be productive members of society.

In addition to a leadership role for nurses, the report emphasized a rapid expansion in the use of technology by nurses and health professionals.

Technology such as smart-phones, email and Skype "hold the potential to change the face of health promotion, improve timely access to care, and put valid and reliable information and research into the hands of patients, families and providers," argued the report.