Photo Credit: University of Ottawa Heart Institute
OTTAWA, March 21, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - Throughout the country, Canadians are feeling the frustration of long wait times in emergency departments, along with lengthy queues to access specialists, surgeries, diagnostic tests, and long-term and continuing care. A new report from the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) shows how registered nurses (RN) are stepping forward with cost-effective and proactive solutions for reducing and managing wait times across the health system - lowering the economic and human costs associated with waiting for health care.
Registered Nurses: On the Front Lines of Wait Times - Moving Forward explores the complex and interconnected challenges that wait times represent, and highlights a number of nurse-driven solutions that are making a positive difference for individuals, their families and the way our health system functions. Bringing down wait times means minimizing time away from work for patients and their caregivers, with less physical and emotional pain, fewer complications, more timely treatment and faster recovery.
"It has been said that good things come to those who wait - but where health care is concerned, waiting simply amounts to needless suffering and frustration," says CNA president Judith Shamian. "RNs and nurse practitioners are providing solutions to this problem by helping people stay healthy and out of hospital through improved access to care and innovations that reduce bottlenecks in the system. With this report, nurses are showing that they can - and will - do more to reduce and manage wait times."
Some solutions outlined in the report include:
...In Toronto, mobile emergency nurses are reducing wait times at emergency departments by making house calls to long-term care residents - at 21 per cent less than the cost of having assessments completed in an emergency department.
...Nurse practitioners opened a clinic in Sudbury, Ontario - the first of its kind in Canada. NPs are providing comprehensive primary care such as performing physical assessments, treating illnesses and injuries, ordering lab tests, prescribing medication and monitoring patients with chronic illness, to several thousand patients who would otherwise go to an emergency department or walk-in clinic.
...Nurse navigators are acting as patient educators, advocates, care coordinators and system navigators to address complex health needs, such as cancer, heart conditions and chronic diseases, and to help improve patient experiences. This has led to better symptom management, patient follow-up and use of resources, and fewer emergency department visits.
...Nurses are continuing to influence clients in making positive lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking, choosing healthier diets and increasing physical activity.
The report is available online at www.cna-aiic.ca.
CNA is the national professional voice of registered nurses in Canada. A federation of 11 provincial and territorial nursing associations and colleges representing 143,843 registered nurses, CNA advances the practice and profession of nursing to improve health outcomes and strengthen Canada's publicly funded, not-for-profit health system.