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Can Nurses Fix Health Care?

Can Nurses Fix Health Care?

Jennifer Fink, RN, BSN | Scrubs Magazine

June 28, 2010

The United States spends more than any other country on health care, yet ranks dead last for access, patient safety, coordination, efficiency, and equity. Apparently, we’re not getting much bang for our buck.

Sadly, we’ve been in last place for awhile. The Commonwealth Fund analyzes and compares the health systems of seven industrialized countries each year — Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. The US was last in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2010, despite spending almost twice as much per capita ($7290 vs. $3837 for the Netherlands).

Researchers observe that the universal health care systems in the other six countries encourage a close relationship between patients and a medical “home base.” Many are also ahead in the use of information technology, which can streamline patient care and improve diagnosis and treatment.

Interestingly, some Americans believe nurses can act as “home base” for patients here in the United States. A recent New York Times article detailed the efforts of one insurance company to cut costs. They did it by hiring nurses. According to the Times, the nurses “full-time job is to help patients with chronic diseases stay on top of their conditions, and, ideally, out of the hospital.” So far, it’s worked: hospital admissions are down 18 percent, while medical expenses decreased seven percent. Patients are pleased with the system as well.

What do you think of the “home base” idea? Do you believe nurses are key to real health care reform?


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  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    Of course nurses can bring down health care costs. We are cheap relatively in cost. Most nurses are "down to earth", unlike physicians who think they are a part of America's upper crust. Truth is physicians are struggling in their own right to maintain a status that is not feasible on most of their incomes. The other sad truth about hospitals in America is the lack of forward thinking and business sense. My family owns a business and we would have long been bankrupt if we did the stupid things down in hospitals and the sad thing is that the culture within the system thrives off such stupidity instead of encouraging the opposite and embracing new ideas and technology. This current economic crisis may force many to wake up and see what so many of us already know.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Account Removed

    over 4 years ago

    This is so true! I saw constantly patients put at risk from doctors and other staff members by ignoring infection control mandates in Labor and Delivery. Several of the nurses were just lazy and their career was nothing more than a job. They did not care about the patients, as they did as little as possible. The doctors did not care and sent possible H1N1 patients from the ED to our unit where were delivering babies. The doctors were too lazy to come to the hospital to treat these uninsured patients. They put the entire unit and staff at risk. The staffing laws were constantly broken, which puts the patients at risk. Physical and verbal abuse between nurses is ignored. As a new hire, I was fired for reporting all of the above under their guise of "poor job performance". They could not get "the whistle blower" out of there fast enough. What has happened to our honorable nursing profession? lgray

  • Jj_on_rock_wall_max50


    over 4 years ago


    I agree completely. I work with patients that have many chronic health conditions. My area is in cardiology. Just to put it out there and I know that many others will agree with me, but during a typical workday, it is all I can do to get patients admitted, discharged, medicated, charted on, etc....... The paperwork has become a monster. If I could decrease the amount of paperwork (used interchangeably with computerized charting), if only by 20 percent, I would have more time to spend with my patients. That time could be spent giving better care and education concerning their illnesses. It breaks my heart to have to give them a booklet at discharge, knowing that they may browse through it, but they will not truly learn the techniques inside of it. The patient nurse ratio is not a good one in many states, leaving both the caregiver and the patient with a certain sense of something is missing. God Bless all.

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