Family Nurse Practitioner
Family Nurse Practitioner
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The issues of patient safety and the increasing scope of family nurse practitioners in medical practice have been dealt with in this paper. National Patient Safety Guidelines are an important tool to help standardize the patient safety procedures. The role of the family nurse practitioner in helping patients is unquestionable and they are the cornerstones of modern medical practice.
Keywords: Patient safety, NPSG, Family nurse.
The role of a family nurse practitioner is quite similar to the role performed by yesteryears family physicians that could treat everyone in the family beginning from the grandfather to the newborn. Today’s family nurse comes with in depth knowledge of medicine and is board certified. The responsibilities that have to be fulfilled by such a practitioner embrace health as a way of living and they focus on both treatment and prevention. In recent times, with transitional care gaining widespread acceptance the family nurse practitioner is being granted more decision-making authority although in certain states they are still under a physician’s supervision. The National Patient Safety Goals (NPSGs) were put forward by the joint commission for the first time in 2002. The aim of introducing these goals was to deal with patient safety issues and specify certain prerequisites for accreditation (Fairman et al., 2011).
The 2015 NPSG’s provide great scope for a family nurse practitioner to improve patient care and also places the burden of patient safety on her shoulder along with other members of the medical team. In this section of the paper, an overview of all the NPSG’s will be put forward with specific emphasis on the family nurse practitioner’s role in implementing these goals.
Goal1: Improve the accuracy of patient identification.
It is extremely important to ensure that the correct medicine and care are given to the correct patient. It is mandatory for a patient to be identified by at least two demarcating features. The nurse while administering drugs or obtaining samples should fulfill this requisite and any samples obtained should be promptly and correctly labeled (Flanagan, 1998).
Goal 2: Improve the effectiveness of communication between caregivers.
It is extremely important to effectively communicate with the patient, his family and convey to them the true nature of the patient’s condition. The nurse practitioner also has to be on the same wavelength as the treating physician and at times may act as the bridge between the patient and the doctor.
Goal 3: Improve the safety of using medications.
NPSG.03.04.01 – Proper labeling of all medicines is a must.
NPSG03.05.01-Special attention has to be paid to any patient receiving anticoagulant drugs. The nurse has to educate the patient, inform them of danger signs and stress on the need for follow-up.
NPSG.03.06.01-a thorough and accurate record of all the medicines that are prescribed to the patient and the actual medicines the patient is taking must be maintained. For this a detailed interview of the patient and a review of medical records are needed.
Goal 6: Reduce the harm associated with clinical alarm systems.
There a number of medical devices that are now being used for ambulatory or home based care; the nurse practitioner should be aware of the working of all these devices and understand the alarms and what they signify. They must also educate the patients and their family members to be vigilant in case of an alarm.
Goal 7: Reduce the risk of healthcare associated infections.
It is extremely important to reduce the incidence of hospital associated infections and strict adherence to hand hygiene guidelines of the CDC and WHO must be followed by the nurse practitioner.
Goal 9: Prevent residents from falling.
Special care must be taken to identify any patient who is at risk of falling either due to a medical condition or effect of a drug and preventive measures must be instituted by the nurse.
Goal14: Prevent bed sores.
For bed ridden patients supportive therapy is extremely important and they must be regularly checked for bed sores and measures taken to prevent them.
An overview of these goals shows that the role of a family practitioner nurse as envisioned by the NPSG is an amalgamation of both clinical and nonclinical responsibilities. While the issues related to patient safety are manifold the nurses must take their share of the responsibilities and ensure that standards of care are improved. The nurse is expected to act not only as a medical professional but also deal with patients in a compassionate and caring manner with no compromise on the patient’s safety. The nurse has to perform routine checkups, assess the patient’s risk profile, administer vaccines and perform screening procedures. Along with they are instrumental in providing supportive care to patients with chronic illnesses (Kaplan et al., 2004).
The term Family nurse practitioner as its literal meaning suggests stands for a board certified nursing professional who can deal with a wide variety of medical issues irrespective of the patient or medical condition in question. The nurse practitioner can provide personalized care to patients and also propagate preventive health measures in the society. But, patient safety guidelines have to be followed to the letter and instructions set in NPSG have to be adhered to. The NPSG has recognized the tremendous role played by nurses in patient safety and provides them with an opportunity to improve patient care and treatment results by following the set norms.
Fairman, Julie A.; Rowe, John W.; Hassmiller, Susan; Shalala, Donna E. (2011). Broadening the Scope of Nursing Practice. The New England Journal of Medicine. 364 (3): 193–6.
Flanagan, Lyndia. (1998). Nurse Practitioners: Growing Competition for Family Physicians? Family Practice Management. 5 (9): 34–43.
Kaplan, Louise; Brown, Marie-Annette. (2004). Prescriptive Authority and Barriers to NP Practice. Nurse Practitioner. 29 (3): 28–35.