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Erica Massey, a Surgical Trauma ICU nurse at USA Medical Center, developed two abstracts accepted for poster presentation at the Southern Excellence in Nursing Consortium last fall hosted by the University of South Alabama College of Nursing.
The first focused on isolation procedures for patients with potentially transmittable infections, the second on handling patients with potential alcohol withdrawal problems.
Massey credits several people but key investigators were University of South Alabama College of Nursing Professors Theresa Wright, RN, DNP, and Loni Tang, MD, for their roles.
“The isolation abstract, titled ‘Preventing Transmission of Infectious Agents in Healthcare Settings: Clearing Isolation Precautions for Patients with a History of MRSA,’ came about because we have patients on isolation who didn’t understand what isolation really meant, so they would leave their rooms,” Massey said. “Once an isolated patient leaves their room, they can unknowingly expose others to infections or put themselves at further risk,” she said.
To help combat the problem, she worked with infection control, other nurses and staff members, infectious disease specialist physicians and USA College of Nursing professors to develop a nurse-driven order set derived directly from the hospital’s policy, which would allow nurses to clear isolation precautions from the patients who no longer carry a contagion. Removing unnecessary isolation precautions is beneficial with improved workflow and increased patient to healthcare worker contact time.
“The second abstract, titled ‘Clinical Institute Withdrawal for Alcohol: Instituting a Standardized Approach of Treating Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms.’ deals with alcohol withdrawal,” she said. It’s common for patients with a history of chronic alcohol intake not to admit they drink during their initial evaluation by nursing staff, but rather than saying they are alcohol dependent they will say they drink socially or not at all. Alcohol dependence is the third leading cause of preventable death. If hospital staff don’t know about the alcoholism, it’s harder to treat and can negatively affect a patient’s outcome.
“Our goal is to prevent withdrawal symptoms by early identification of symptoms,” she says. “If we recognize it early, we can treat it safely and effectively.”
About the University of South Alabama Medical Center
The University of South Alabama Medical Center offers patient-centered care to the central Gulf Coast with unique services including Mobile’s only Level I Trauma Center and Regional Burn Center, plus Centers of Excellence in stroke care and cardiovascular diseases, and a wide range of acute care services.
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