Emergency rooms are known for their long waits and lack of competent staff. Over the past years emergency care departments have revamped their systems in order to correct these flaws. A leading factor in this change is the presence of more nursing staff on the floor of the emergency room. Nurses have gone from having little power when it comes to patient diagnoses, to running their own non-life-threatening treatment facilities. Without these men and women emergency care would continue to be inefficient.
Nurses started out in emergency rooms as the front person who had the patient fill out paperwork and asked him or her a few questions before having the patient wait even longer to see a doctor. “[Nurses] told doctors what patients needed but they had little autonomy; everything they did had to be signed off by doctors” (Dean, 2011, p. 6). Nurses did not have much power when it came to diagnosis ad treatment. This was a main reason for the huge back up in waiting rooms. Nurses were often frustrated because after they assessed a patient a junior doctor went through the same steps they had gone through, usually coming to the same diagnosis and treatment plan. “Doctors usually made the same diagnosis the nurse had already made” (Dean, 2011, p. 6).
It has been shown that emergency nurse practitioners (ENP) often provide safer care than doctors. A study of 1,453 patients at North General Hospital found that nurse practitioner’s patients were less likely to return to the hospital compared to patients of doctors. This is due to the more accurate nurses notes taken by the ENP (Dean, 2011).
Nurses in the past were not trained in the treatment of traumatic injuries. This made it difficult for them to properly assess trauma patients. Nurses could not move quickly or efficiently with these types of patients. As time has gone on nursing schools and training has adapted to fill this gap. Nurses now are taking on greater medical roles, partly because of changes in medical training (Dean, 2011). ENPs now see and discharge patiently independently. Although they may not be able to help every patient that walks through the door they definitely make a difference in the control of the crowd in the wait room. In attempt to control the numbers in emergency room wait rooms, clinics have been set up which are run by emergency nurses and ENPs.
In these facilities patients come in with non-life-threatening injuries, this reduces the number of patients going to an emergency room for non-life threatening injuries. In return this lessens the load in the emergency room and allows the staff to attend to the more seriously injured patients. Emergency nurse practitioners also work to fill the gap in doctors on the floor. Because there are fewer doctors on the floor than nurses, it benefits the ER to have competent nurses that can see and discharge patients. “[Nurses] represent an exceptional clinical resource that continues to expand” (Dean, 2011, p.7).
An issue than arises with moving patients quickly through the emergency room is medical mistakes. When a nurse is moving quickly he or she may be more prone to making a careless mistake. Because of this patient care could suffer (Dean, 2011). As nursing expands and make new leaps and bounds there will always be setbacks. Nurses now have this idea in the back of their minds while working with patients, which may in turn make them more aware of mistakes.
Emergency room nursing has evolved from its start. Emergency room nurses are unlike another nurse because they are always moving and have to react and think quickly. This is the type of nurse I am considering being after graduating from Salve Regina University. I want to be able to see patients and help them as quickly and efficiently as possible. I am also considering becoming a nurse practitioner in the future. This will allow be to see patients assess, and discharge them on my own. This article expresses how nursing is an expanding field. By the time I am a working nurse will have even more power in the hospital setting. The classes and training I am going through now is going to prepare me to be the best nurse I can be and offer the best care that is attainable today.