NPs, You Can Help Prevent ER Overcrowding
A recent op-ed in The Washington Post calls for prevention of an unmanageable influx of newly insured patients to emergency departments. In Keeping Routine Medical Care Out of Hospital Emergency Rooms, Jennifer Brokaw, an emergency department physician, makes several very sensible suggestions for solutions, two of which point directly toward nurse practitioners:
One, increase numbers of convenient care and urgent care clinics. This of course means NPs, when we think about who staffs the 1,200 convenient care clinics and urgent care centers.
Two, invest in education of healthcare providers other than physicians. "Training more primary-care physicians will not be enough," she writes.
She also suggests making use of social networking to help patients learn about their health and find providers. This doesn't directly call on NPs, but NPs can play a big part in achieving this, too, considering how well nurse practitioners get to know their patients and communities. You can direct patients to the right places to look for healthcare information. Are you already doing this? If so, what do you tell your patients?