Medacs Healthcare

JUN 27/2013

Nurses 'can boost quality of care for older patients'

Nurses can boost the quality of care for older patients in the US with chronic conditions, a new study highlights.

With people living longer than in previous generations there is a higher number of chronic geriatric health conditions, including dementia, depression, urinary incontinence - each of which can require complex medical care from healthcare professionals.

The average family doctor will often be required to spend a significant proportion of their time and resources treating individuals with chronic conditions and over the past few years many treatment models have been designed to ensure that medical care for chronic geriatric ailments is of a high quality.

However, many of these models are only designed for a hospital setting and do not take into account community-based primary care services.

A study led by UCLA and published in this month's edition of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society highlights the crucial ways in which primary care service workers, especially nursing practitioners can help to treat chronic geriatric conditions.

Lead author, Dr David Reuben, who is chief of the geriatrics division in the department of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA said that it is becoming increasingly clear that a team approach needs to be taken when treating such patients.

He said: "There are some things that nurse practitioners do better than doctors and some things that doctors do better than nurse practitioners."

As part of the recent study patients at two primary care facilities in southern California were assessed, each with one of the main chronic geriatric conditions.

Of these around half were seen by a nurse practitioner for co-management with a primary care physician of at least one condition, while the rest were seen only by a primary care physician.

Researchers then measured quality indicators and found that for those suffering from falls, 80 per cent of quality indicators were satisfied for co-managed cases, compared with 34 per cent for physicians alone. Similar figures resulted from each of the conditions, with depression being the most similar between the two sectors.

It was noted that nurses were more likely to take far more detailed patient histories and assessment of their condition.

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