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

New shoe makes running 4 percent easier, 2-hour marathon possible, study shows

November 17, 2017
Eleven days after Boulder-born Shalane Flanagan won the New York City Marathon in new state-of-the-art racing flats known as "4%s," University of Colorado Boulder researchers have published the study that inspired the shoes' ...

Vaping while pregnant could cause craniofacial birth defects, study shows

November 16, 2017
Using e-cigarettes during pregnancy could cause birth defects of the oral cavity and face, according to a recent Virginia Commonwealth University study.

Study: For older women, every movement matters

November 16, 2017
Folding your laundry or doing the dishes might not be the most enjoyable parts of your day. But simple activities like these may help prolong your life, according to the findings of a new study in older women led by the University ...

When vegetables are closer in price to chips, people eat healthier, study finds

November 16, 2017
When healthier food, like vegetables and dairy products, is pricier compared to unhealthy items, like salty snacks and sugary sweets, Americans are significantly less likely to have a high-quality diet, a new Drexel University ...

Children's exposure to secondhand smoke may be vastly underestimated by parents

November 15, 2017
Four out of 10 children in the US are exposed to secondhand smoke, according to the American Heart Association. A new Tel Aviv University study suggests that parents who smoke mistakenly rely on their own physical senses ...

How pomegranate extract alters breast cancer stem cell properties

November 15, 2017
A University at Albany research team has found evidence suggesting that the same antioxidant that gives pomegranate fruit their vibrant red color can alter the characteristics of breast cancer stem cells, showing the superfood's ...

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.