Increased collaboration between nursing home RNs and LPNs could improve patient care

March 14, 2012

Researchers estimate nearly 800,000 preventable adverse drug events may occur in nursing homes each year. Many of these incidents could be prevented with safety practices such as medication reconciliation, a process in which health care professionals, such as physicians, pharmacists and nurses, review medication regimens to identify and resolve discrepancies when patients transfer between health care settings. In nursing homes, both registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) often are responsible for this safety practice. A recent study by a University of Missouri gerontological nursing expert found, when observed, these nurses often differed in how they identified discrepancies. Recognizing the distinct differences between RNs and LPNs could lead to fewer medication errors and better patient care.

Amy Vogelsmeier, assistant professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing, says because pharmacists and physicians often are unavailable, both RNs and LPNs equally are responsible for practices such as medication reconciliation and other activities to coordinate care once patients enter nursing homes.

Vogelsmeier said RNs often are underutilized in nursing homes, though their clinical education and experience give them a greater sense of the "bigger picture," which leads to better outcomes.

"Right now in the industry, RNs and LPNs often are used interchangeably but inappropriately," Vogelsmeier said. 'The solution is not to replace LPNs with RNs but to create collaborative arrangements in which they work together to maximize the skill sets of each to provide the best possible care for patients."

She says assigning RNs and LPNs complementary roles that maximize their unique abilities will improve patient care and satisfaction. Additionally, Vogelsmeier said offering LPNs enhanced training opportunities may help them build the necessary to work in the current nursing .

"Nursing home care is more complex than it was 10 years ago," Vogelsmeier said. "People used to move into nursing homes and stay there the rest of their lives, but now they're using nursing homes to transition between hospitals and their homes. Patients in nursing homes are sicker, and their stays are shorter. That demands better nursing staff coordination of care."

Explore further: Strong leadership necessary to provide more sophisticated care for aging population, study finds

More information: The study, "Medication Reconciliation in Nursing Homes: Thematic Differences Between RN and LPN Staff," was published in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing.

Related Stories

Strong leadership necessary to provide more sophisticated care for aging population, study finds

September 13, 2011
Strong leadership, communication and teamwork are essential to successful organizations, especially health care facilities. However, how those organizations achieve improvement is not clearly understood, says a University ...

New study the first to look at nursing error disclosure in nursing homes

November 4, 2011
Nurses have an obligation to disclose an error when one occurs. While errors should be avoided as much as possible, the reality is the health care delivery system is not and will never be perfect; errors and adverse events ...

Study finds infection control violations at 15 percent of US nursing homes

May 3, 2011
Fifteen percent of U.S. nursing homes receive deficiency citations for infection control per year, according to a new study published in the May issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, the official publication ...

Improving patient care by improving nurses' work environment

November 30, 2011
While nurse-to-patient ratios are widely recognized as an important factor in determining the quality of patient care, those ratios are not always easy to change without significant cost and investment of resources. What's ...

New registered nurses' lack of geographic mobility has negative implications for rural health

December 9, 2011
A study on the geographic mobility of registered nurses (RNs) recently published in the December Health Affairs magazine suggests that the profession's relative lack of mobility has serious implications for access to health ...

California nurse staffing

July 15, 2011
In a comprehensive analysis comparing nurse staffing in California hospitals to similar hospitals in the U.S. over nearly a decade, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing have found that controversial ...

Recommended for you

Breathing dirty air may harm kidneys, study finds

September 21, 2017
Outdoor air pollution has long been linked to major health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A new study now adds kidney disease to the list, according to ...

Excess dietary manganese promotes staph heart infection

September 21, 2017
Too much dietary manganese—an essential trace mineral found in leafy green vegetables, fruits and nuts—promotes infection of the heart by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus ("staph").

Being active saves lives whether a gym workout, walking to work or washing the floor

September 21, 2017
Physical activity of any kind can prevent heart disease and death, says a large international study involving more than 130,000 people from 17 countries published this week in The Lancet.

Frequent blood donations safe for some, but not all

September 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—Some people may safely donate blood as often as every eight weeks—but that may not be a healthy choice for all, a new study suggests.

Higher manganese levels in children correlate with lower IQ scores, study finds

September 21, 2017
A study led by environmental health researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine finds that children in East Liverpool, Ohio with higher levels of Manganese (Mn) had lower IQ scores. The research appears ...

Higher levels of fluoride in pregnant woman linked to lower intelligence in their children

September 20, 2017
Fluoride in the urine of pregnant women shows a correlation with lower measures of intelligence in their children, according to University of Toronto researchers who conducted the first study of its kind and size to examine ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.