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July 15, 2010

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California Facing Increase in Pertussis Cases
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is urging residents to get vaccinated or get booster shots against pertussis, which is currently epidemic in the state: 910 cases have been documented from January 1 through June 15, a fourfold increase over the number recorded for the same period last year. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the increase could be related to California's "lackluster immunization rates"; the state is one of 11 states that do not require pertussis booster shots in middle schools. To encourage vaccination of new mothers and fathers, the CDPH is providing free pertussis vaccines to birthing hospitals.

Visitor by nerissa's ring, via Flickr

Proposed Rules Would Give Hospital Patients the Right To Designate Visitors
According to a recent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services press release, new rules proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will require participating hospitals to inform patients that they can choose who can visit them while they are inpatients, regardless of whether a visitor is "a spouse, a domestic partner (including a same-sex domestic partner), another family member, or a friend." The proposed rules, which once finalized will update the Conditions of Participation (the minimum standards that all Medicare- and Medicaid-participating hospitals must meet), are open to public comment through August 27. The new rules and information on how to comment can be found in the June 28 Federal Register.

Epinephrine Added to FDA Drug Shortage List in June
Citing "unanticipated increased demand," the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) added epinephrine 0.1 mg/mL emergency syringes to its Current Drug Shortages list in June. Although the shortage is expected to resolve by midsummer, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices have jointly issued a National Alert Network message, which describes how the shortage might result in medication errors and recommends ways to avoid them, including conserving supplies of prefilled syringes for code boxes and emergency responders.

Commonwealth Fund Report Says U.S. Underperforms in Health Care
The Commonwealth Fund's latest report again finds that the U.S. health care system ranks last or next-to-last on five dimensions of performance—quality (including patient safety), access, efficiency, equity, and long and healthy lives—when compared to the health care systems of Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. The full report, Mirror, Mirror On The Wall: How the Performance of the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally: a 2010 Update, is available here.

AJN coverInterventions that promote physical activity in chronically ill adults are the subject of this month's free CE feature. Building on a 2008 meta-analysis of findings from 163 reports, the authors discuss the implications, then describe the most common strategies and practices used to encourage physical activity in this population and identify the most effective. You'll find a related blog post here.

© BSIP / Photoshot
An evidence-based protocol for managing hypoglycemia across clinical areas, developed by clinicians at a Veterans Affairs medical center with Magnet designation, is described in this month's installment of our Cultivating Quality series. Read the article, which includes an algorithm, to learn how they did it.

How do you critically appraise the evidence for use in clinical practice? Find out in this fifth installment of our Evidence-Based Practice Step by Step.

Health care reform—what's in it for nursing? The new law opens up a host of opportunities for nurses; learn more in this month's Policy & Politics forum and this related blog post.

To hear more about these and other stories in the current issue, listen to the audio highlights.


AJN's blog, Off the Charts, has daily updates on news that matters—or  should matter—to nurses, as well as commentary on a broad array of topics. Bookmark us, check in often, and leave a comment: what's on your mind?

This summer we're on the (virtual) road with Sue Hassmiller as she tours Europe on a trip inspired by the life and work of Florence Nightingale. Hassmiller, who is senior advisor for nursing at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is posting frequently, and you can find her collected posts here: In Florence's Footsteps—Notes From a Journey. Recent posts on other topics include:


Tips and thoughts from AJN news director Gail M. Pfeifer, RN, MA

My new hometown lies at the edge of pristine southern NJ wetlands. Although this community is far from the BP oil spill in the Gulf (ongoing as I write), we who live here are extremely grateful that when the tide comes in, it brings only salt water and oil-free wildlife. I'm not expert enough to offer suggestions on how to lessen our reliance on oil, or even to opine about the Obama administration's proposed moratorium on offshore drilling, which many Gulf residents oppose because so many jobs would be lost. But I can offer this suggestion: get informed. Not from the media or friends with politically right or left leanings, but from organizations that just might know what they're talking about. Then decide where you stand, and act on it.

Here are a few online sources offering high-quality information relevant to the oil spill and the search for alternatives to oil. Read about:

I welcome your comments and ideas for future Your Space topics. Send them to me at: ajnNews@wolterskluwer.com.

If you're not a subscriber, visit us here and enter promo code WAJ504CC to subscribe at a discounted rate.

Coming up in the August issue of AJN...

  • CE–Original Research: Parents and Children with Cystic Fibrosis: A Family Affair by Paula Harff Lomas and Susan B. Fowler. Findings from this study show that many parents learn they have cystic fibrosis only after their child receives the diagnosis.
  • Cultivating Quality: Reducing Rates of Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection by Joyce E. Wenger. Recognizing the seriousness of CAUTI as a patient safety issue, one Magnet hospital implemented a nurse-managed approach.
  • Sexually Speaking: Sexual Changes During and After Pregnancy by Anne Katz. Discussing with your patients potential changes in their sex lives after pregnancy can make it easier for them to adapt in a timely and mutually satisfying way.
  • Environments and Health: Leftover Drugs in the Water Supply: Don't Flush Those Pills! by Michelle F. Lauer, Bettie D. Kettell, and Marla H. Davis. Medication take-back programs can reduce the environmental impact—and associated health threats—of improper disposal.
  • Art of Nursing: An Ode to My Certified Nurse Midwife by Jenna Kay Rindo. A poem.
  • Reflections: Miss Orienting Nurse by Linda H. Pellico. Where did she learn to diagnose by reading the air?


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