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

Amber-tinted glasses may provide relief for insomnia

December 15, 2017
How do you unwind before bedtime? If your answer involves Facebook and Netflix, you are actively reducing your chance of a good night's sleep. And you are not alone: 90 percent of Americans use light-emitting electronic devices, ...

Warning labels can help reduce soda consumption and obesity, new study suggests

December 15, 2017
Labels that warn people about the risks of drinking soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages can lower obesity and overweight prevalence, suggests a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

Office work can be a pain in the neck

December 15, 2017
Neck pain is a common condition among office workers, but regular workplace exercises can prevent and reduce it, a University of Queensland study has found.

Regular takeaways linked to kids' heart disease and diabetes risk factors

December 14, 2017
Kids who regularly eat take-away meals may be boosting their risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, suggests research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Your pets can't put your aging on 'paws'

December 14, 2017
(HealthDay)—In a finding that's sure to ruffle some fur and feathers, scientists report that having a pet doesn't fend off age-related declines in physical or mental health.

Simulation model finds Cure Violence program and targeted policing curb urban violence

December 14, 2017
When communities and police work together to deter urban violence, they can achieve better outcomes with fewer resources than when each works in isolation, a simulation model created by researchers at the UC Davis Violence ...

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.