8 Most Common Christmas-Related ER Visits

8 Most Common Christmas-Related ER Visits

’Tis the season to be jolly, and to have your festive follies land you in the emergency room. Holiday cheer can dissolve into tears after any number of seasonal accidents around Christmas time, from falling while hanging lights to cutting yourself with a knife while cooking. Below, we’ve rounded up eight major reasons for the seasonal injuries that often happen in the last few days of December. If you’re working in the ER on or around Christmas Day, keep these causes in mind as you put on your holiday scrubs.

Wrapping and Unwrapping Gifts

As mundane as these tasks seem, wrapping and unwrapping gifts is a major cause of injury around Christmas—and there’s a huge spike in cases on Christmas Day in particular. Knives, scissors, and box cutters can easily slip, resulting in lacerations. Even those awful hard clamshell plastic cases can pose a risk if you catch your skin on a jagged edge. Wrapping gifts can also result in lacerations and even major paper cuts if people aren’t careful. If this sounds silly to you, just wait until you work Christmas morning in the ER and watch the patients come through the door.

Decorating the House

Deck the halls with boughs of holly, but just be sure not to injure yourself in the process. Decorations pose all sorts of dangers. You can shock yourself while putting up lights, fall while hanging a garland over a door, or cut yourself on a broken ornament or figurine. In particular, children can get into a lot of trouble around decorations, such as swallowing small ornaments, hurting themselves on heavy stocking holders, and tripping over ground-level decorations. Keep that in mind when you’re decorating your house, or while you’re treating a patient who injured himself or herself doing these very things.

Hanging the Lights

Hanging lights inside or outside may be a time-honored tradition, but it’s also a dangerous one. Like decorating the house, hanging Christmas lights comes with all sorts of hazards. There’s the obvious risk of falling off a ladder or roof, resulting in bruises, broken bones, and/or a concussion. But you can also throw out your back while reaching up high or blow out your knee while climbing a ladder. Plus, there’s always the chance of cutting yourself on a broken bulb or shocking yourself with electricity when you plug in the lights. Around Christmas time, you may find yourself wishing your patients had simply put some battery-powered candles in the window and left it at that.

Trimming the Tree

Trimming a Christmas tree holds all the dangers of putting up decorations and hanging Christmas lights, all at once. If you manage not to throw out your back or pull a muscle while getting the tree into the house and setting it up in the stand, there’s still the possibility of falling off the ladder while you drape the lights or put on the tree topper. Of course, you can shock yourself while plugging in the lights as well. If you get through that unscathed, there’s still the chance that you will cut yourself on a busted ornament or lightbulb or trip on the tree skirt. Trimming a tree is all fun and games, until it isn’t.

Getting the Flu

Okay, so the flu isn’t related to Christmas directly, but December does fall right within the window for flu season. (The extended flu season for 2017-2018 lasted all the way from November to March and was the worst outbreak in the U.S. in almost a decade.) Flu viruses will already be circulating by Christmas, and the stress and travel of the holiday can wear down people’s immune systems, making them more prone to contracting the flu. Expect to see severe cases of the flu starting in November and continuing through the rest of the winter holidays, including Christmas—and be sure to encourage any healthy patients you see to get the vaccine!

Cooking the Food

Cooking that delicious Christmas dinner can also prove harmful to your health. Knife lacerations are a common injury around the holidays, as cooks are often distracted while chopping and inexperienced chefs find themselves pressed into cutting vegetables. Burns also happen often due to splattered oil or gravy, as well as brushing up against a hot pan or stovetop burner unknowingly. Less common are full-on cooking fires, which are thankfully more rare but more serious when they do occur. Come Christmas, you’ll probably find yourself patching up more than one overambitious chef, so brush up on your burn and wound care skills.

Eating the Food

You’ve managed to get through cooking all the food without burning or lacerating yourself, so you’re home scot-free, right? Wrong. Food poisoning can happen during holidays due to undercooked meat–which harbors salmonella–or any dishes left at room temperature for too long, which allows nasty bacteria to grow. There’s a high likelihood you’ll see patients with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and/or fever, all classic signs of food poisoning. You might also get some cases of more mild gastrointestinal distress (“mild” being relative) with symptoms such as severe gas, bloating, constipation, and abdominal pain. Traditional Christmas dishes are full of fats, oils, sugars, spices, and other irritants, and many people overindulge on the holiday, leading to seriously upset stomachs.

Drinking Too Much

Just as many people overindulge in food over the holidays, so they also overindulge in alcohol. While alcohol-related incidents are a bit more common on New Year’s Eve, many people also imbibe to excess during other winter holidays, including Christmas. Drunk driving is obviously a major concern, but plenty of other minor mishaps can result from drunkenness, such as slips, falls, and injuries caused by sluggish reflexes.

While some of these resulting injuries might not be so different from ER visits the other 11 months out of the year, it helps to know the possible cases that might walk through the door, especially if you’ve never worked a holiday shift in the ER before. Keep these eight injuries in mind as you treat patients, and consider rewarding yourself with a nice Christmas gift, such as sturdy nursing shoes or a new stethoscope once you get through the craziness of holiday injury season.

Holiday Self-Gifting For Nurses

Holiday Self-Gifting For Nurses

The holiday gift buying season is upon us! You’re probably going down your shopping list and trying to find just the right gift for friends and family. You may even have nurse friends and colleagues that you want to gift with fun nurse-themed items you hope they’ll love.

But what about you? Maybe you, like many nurses, have a tendency to forget to take care of yourself. (It’s hard for many caregivers to remember that they need to take care of #1!)

When you’re in the thick of a crazy work shifts and off-duty holiday goings on, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. You need a little break, though you may not know the exact remedy that your mind and body needs in hectic moments.

So, why not find some go-to self-care items for whenever you need a pick me up in 2019? Have fun doing your self-gifting by shopping online (Amazon is the biggest bazaar!) or at local independent shops and craft fairs. You can combine convenience and also support makers on Etsy. It’s like a massive online craft pop-up with thousands of amazing shops from around the world. Not only can you find one of a kind pieces, but you’re also supporting small creative enterprises.

Here are some favorite gift ideas on many nurse wish lists this season.

Socks, footies, and shoe inserts—not glamorous but oh so comfy.

If you’re on your feet all day long, a great gift idea may be a thick pair of warm footie socks for the winter season, or a pair of compression socks (there are some stylish choices out there!), or a foot massager and DIY pedicure kit. Shoes need some cush? Try a comfort insert from a drugstore or specialty shoe store that stocks the Birkenstock brand.

Warm, snuggly blanket for hygge comfort, or a weighted blanket for stress-relief.

Enjoy your days off under a perfectly knitted wool throw, chunky or light as a cloud—the type of knit that invites you to snuggle in with a good book. Or try one of the new weighted blankets that are gaining popularity for their health benefits. They help many people reduce workplace stress and improve sleep, especially nurses on shift work suffering from off-kilter circadian rhythms.

Healthy snacks for the active nurse, or artisan food and drink for foodies.

Being a nurse means being on the go, so nurses may not have extra time to pack a lunch or snack to bring to work. That often means relying on a vending machine or cafeteria to fuel up for long shifts. Disaster! A gourmet gift basket of healthy treats like nuts and dried fruit may help you hold out until you can enjoy a nutritious meal. On your days off, sip on a favorite at-home drink, such as a matcha green tea latte. And savor it in an encouraging mug, with a witty or wise nurse-life quote and graphic.

Manicure, pedicure, massage, or other spa treatment!

Hand lotion gift sets make great gifts to help sooth away skin that gets dry from a grueling hand-hygiene regimen. (Harsh hand cleansers and sanitizers are murder on delicate, weather-beaten skin!) Bubble bath products and spa baskets filled with bath products in a keepsake basket will give you a night of much deserved pampering.

Or better yet, treat yourself to a mani/pedi or an all out body care pampering session at a spa. Men make up a fast growing percentage of spa goers, so don’t let gender stereotypes stop you from getting or giving a gift certificate for spa services.

A journal, some gel pens, and washi tape.

If you equate journal with diary, and you haven’t kept one since middle school, you may be surprised at the popularity of new journaling methods. Bullet journals are one way to goal-set, and keep yourself motivated and organized. Many nurses also love to express themselves in a “bujo” through doodles, watercolor, fancy lettering, or stickers and washi tape.

You can treat journaling as a time to explore your inner life, a form of meditation, if you like. In that case, the Nurse’s Journal from the Josie King Foundation is wonderful. Create an introspective ambience by lighting a couple of candles. Artisan candles—with sparkles, soy waxes, exotic oils, or delicate flower petals— add some magic.

I hope that seeing some of these ideas will inspire you to treat yourself to some self-care. We all need reminders to take time to relax and do what makes us happy!

New Study Links Less Collaboration with Working Overtime

New Study Links Less Collaboration with Working Overtime

This past spring, Chenjuan Ma, PhD, and Amy Witkoski Stimpfel, PhD, RN, both assistant professors at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, published a study in the Journal of Nursing Administration that examined whether working overtime can negatively influence how nurses collaborate with other nurses and physicians. In their study “The Association Between Nurse Shift Patterns and Nurse-Nurse and Nurse Physician Collaboration in Acute Care Hospital Units,” the researchers concluded that one third of all nurses work longer than they are normally scheduled, and as a result, their ability to collaborate decreases.

Drs. Ma and Stimpfel took time to talk about the study and its results.

Why did you decide to do this study in the first place?

Dr. Stimpfel: There has been increasing interest in how to manage shift work and overtime hours for nurses due to the impact of fatigue on patient safety and quality. Collaboration has been identified as being a factor that is influential in patient safety and quality as well. We know that our ability to work effectively and regulate emotions—key to collaboration—diminishes with increasing wakefulness and fatigue. We could not find literature to support the relationship between work hours/overtime and collaboration in the nursing literature, which is why we conducted this study.

It’s interesting that nurses who work regular shifts of 11.88 hours or longer regular shifts of 12.17 hours don’t have a decrease in collaboration. But if nurses working that first shift of 11.88 hours had to work a shift of 12.17 hours—which would mean overtime—they would have a decrease in collaboration. Did you discover why this happens?

Dr. Stimpfel: Our data did not detail why working overtime resulted in decreased collaboration. However, the conceptual model in our study helps guide our hypothesis about why this relationship occurs. As nurses work longer shifts, often unexpectedly, this increases wakefulness. Prolonged wakefulness can result in less ability to make decisions and regulate emotions, which may lead to greater difficulties in collaboration. As suggested by our findings, this is more likely to happen when nurses have to unexpectedly work longer than scheduled.

Does any amount of overtime cause problems with collaboration between nurses and other health care professionals?

Dr. Ma: With our current study design (i.e., observational, cross-sectional design), we were not able to detect the minimum amount required to lead to changes in collaboration. However, as the very first study of its kind, our study provided empirical evidence of a significant association between work hours/overtime and collaboration. Our current study suggested that one hour of overtime was associated with 0.17 decrease on the RN-RN scale. In other words, a 0.17 decrease from mean score of the RN-RN scale suggest that a unit’s rank on the RN-RN score would drop from 50th percentile to approximately 30th percentile.

Why is collaboration so important?

Dr. Ma: Collaboration is critical for quality care and patient safety. When working collaboratively, different parties in the patient-care team—including nurses and physicians—will share objectives, responsibility, decision making, and power to achieve patient care goals.

Previous studies have shown that patients receive superior care and have better outcomes in hospitals where nurses collaborate well with other health care providers. Without good collaboration among health care providers, quality patient care may be compromised.

Were you surprised by the results of your research?

Dr. Ma: Not really. Maybe the high number of nurses—one in three nurses—reported working longer than scheduled.

Do you have any suggestions for what should be done so that collaboration doesn’t diminish?

Dr. Ma: One highlight of our findings is the significant association between longer overtime and decreased collaboration. This finding suggests that one strategy to improve collaboration is to minimize nurse overtime as much as possible by a variety of means, better shift scheduling, and predicting and ensuring adequate staffing, etc.

Is there anything regarding this research that you think is important for readers to know?

Dr. Stimpfel: Our findings have broad implications, not just for nurses, but also for other health care providers who are at risk for shift work-related fatigue. Effective teamwork and collaboration are critical to patient outcomes, thus, managing shift work and overtime hours are important for the entire heath care team.

Beat the Flu During National Influenza Vaccination Week

Beat the Flu During National Influenza Vaccination Week

This year, National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) is December 2-8. NIVW provides an opportunity for nurses to promote flu vaccination before flu season swings into full gear. The flu can be dangerous and result in serious health problems (complications), such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations. Flu can sometimes even lead to death. All people are at risk for serious flu-related complications and certain groups, such as young children, pregnant women, people with certain chronic health conditions like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, asthma or lung disease, and people 65 years and older, are at higher risk.

Getting a flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against the flu and its serious complications. Annual vaccination is important because influenza is unpredictable, flu viruses are constantly changing, and immunity from vaccination declines over time. Flu vaccination can also prevent serious medical events associated with some chronic conditions. A meta-analysis study published in JAMA shows that flu vaccination has been associated with lower rates of some cardiac events (i.e., unstable angina, heart failure, or stroke among people with heart disease).

In the United States, flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter. The exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary, but influenza activity often peaks between December and February, and it can last as late as May. The CDC recommends everyone at 6 months of age and older gets a flu vaccine by the end of October, before flu activity begins every year. However, getting vaccinated later can still be beneficial.

Here are some essential preventative actions that we can do, in addition to getting a flu vaccine, to beat the flu and protect ourselves, our families, and our patients.

  1. Wash your hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing. Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze and wash your hands often and thoroughly. After using a tissue, throw it in the trash and wash your hands.
  2. Frequently clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like flu.
  3. Boost your immune by getting adequate sleep, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, drinking plenty of water, and taking time to exercise.
  4. Last but not least, stay home when you are sick. If you are sick with a flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.
Healthy Holiday Gift Ideas

Healthy Holiday Gift Ideas

The holidays are just around the corner! Many of you are looking for healthy holiday gift ideas and thinking about spending money on things that promote the health and wellness of your loved ones. To maximize the joys of the holidays and to show how much you care about your loved ones this year, here are some healthy and meaningful holiday gifts that won’t cost a fortune.

1. Fitness Tracker, Pedometer, and Heart Rate Monitor.

These gifts can help encourage your loved one to keep moving and can make them mindful of how much they are moving. Some only feature step counting, heart rate monitoring, and reliable sleep tracking; others have a built-in GPS or WiFi capability. You can find these gifts for around $50 or less, but you can spend more if your budget allows.

2. Healthy Cookbooks.

There are dozens of amazing cookbooks out there with recipes that are nutritious and include everything from salads to instant pot recipes. A healthy cookbook would make a great gift for your loved ones who like to cook.

3. A Gourmet Gift Basket.

A gourmet basket of fruits, an assortment of nuts, bottles of almond or olive oil or balsamic vinegar, are all great healthy gifts. Giving these gifts is a perfect way to show your care and love and also add colorful addition to their home.

4. Aroma Essential Oil Diffuser or Beeswax Candles.

Both diffusing aroma essential oils and beeswax candles are safe and can help reduce indoor air pollution. Not only is it functional and practical, but also healthy and beautiful.

5. Motivational Quote Art Prints and a Mouse Pad.

Both cute art prints and a decorative mouse pad are cheerful and they are perfect gifts to add a touch of inspiration without overwhelming a space. They can make someone smile and boost the mood of your loved one.

6. Hand Cream Gift Set and Travel Size Hand Sanitizer, Assorted Scents.

Both hand cream and hand sanitizer are great gifts for everyone this time of year—and they are inexpensive. They can be used at home and outside. Pick a scent you know your loved one is crazy about, or opt for a calm-inducing classic like eucalyptus or spearmint.

The Role of Nursing in Leveraging Public Health Awareness

The Role of Nursing in Leveraging Public Health Awareness

Public health is an important aspect in the nursing profession because it involves addressing medical illnesses on a global scale. Due to the aging population and the advancement of medical technologies, public health nurses are vital in developing and providing skilled nursing care aimed at promoting preventative measures to increase the global health of the population. It is this understanding that fuels public health nurses to continue their efforts to not only educate society about certain illnesses, but also promote healthy lifestyles across the patient gamut.

What is Public Health?

According to the Public Health Institute, public health is defined as “the science and practice of protecting and improving the health of a community, as by preventative medicine, health education, control of communicable diseases, application of sanitary measures, and monitoring of environmental hazards.” The focus of increasing public health awareness is significant especially in today’s society because of the growing paradigm shift towards preventative care versus diagnostic care. In addition to this, public health awareness also requires a collaborative and multidisciplinary effort consisting of physicians, epidemiologists, statisticians, and dietary professionals. This interprofessional collaboration is vital because it involves gathering a sizeable amount of clinical data to effectively screen and prevent a disease from adversely affecting the general public.

The Impact of Nursing in Public Health

The impact of nurses in supporting public health efforts is invaluable because of their strong emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention. Nurses not only possess the proficiencies but also competencies to tackle the burden of health determinants and the various environmental and behavioral factors associated with it. Subsequently, nurses must have the skillset to proactively confront these challenges within an individual and societal context. In order to evaluate these activities, nurses must be diligent in both planning and implementing to ensure public health concerns are addressed directly. Finally, nurses who are actively involved in lobbying for societal and structural reform are then able to promote effectual health care strategies aimed at reducing negative health outcomes associated with poor health decisions and a lack of knowledge.

Why is Public Health Important?

Due to the health care industry shifting towards more preventive care strategies, nurses continue to play a major role in leveraging public health awareness. By identifying and monitoring health concerns that may affect entire communities, public health nurses are uniquely qualified to not only advocate, but also promote societal change to safeguard the health and well-being of all individuals around the world. Therefore, a nurse’s role in health promotion includes various responsibilities related to advocating, enabling, and mediating activities to ensure salubrious decisions equate to healthier outcomes.