Quick fixes, task-triage, and off-the-cuff "strategic" planning. I'm talking about the things we do every day to help our lives run more smoothly.
By "quick fixes," I mean the practical, easy solutions we devise on a regular basis to handle a specific problem. "Task-triage" -- doing certain things in a particular order -- optimizes outcome(s) and makes the processes that lead to them easier. (What's-cooked-when for dinner jumps to mind, but of course there are plenty of other examples.)
The other week, for instance, I needed a "quick fix": My son had five or six very itchy and annoying mosquito bites on his leg. What to do? I gave him an ice cube to rub on the leg as a comforting distraction, and then I dabbed tiny amounts of hydrocortisone cream on his bites while I Googled around for advice. Pretty quickly, I found a video interview with someone from Ladies' Home Journal recommending a handful of tried-and-true home remedies, including dishwashing liquid to treat poison ivy.
Since I had noticed other videos online with people saying dishwashing liquid was great for soothing mosquito bites, I thought the dishwashing liquid might be a good "solution," so we put a tiny drop on each bite. About an hour later, my son said he felt a lot better... but maybe it was thanks to the hydrocortisone... or the good old placebo effect. (I hope no one is cringing. This is not exactly "evidence-based practice"!)
Our "task-triage" that day consisted of figuring out the best order to do three errands, at places all about a block away from each other in our neighborhood. Here's what we decided was best:
- Buy 10 tiny crickets at the pet food store first, since the other errands involved dinner and school lunch items and we didn't want to walk around the pet store with awkward packages. We also didn't want to bring food into the pet store. It probably would have been fine, but the entire shop smells a little like bird seed.
- Next stop Boston Market, for school lunch. This was stop No. 2 because we'd decided to get a family pizza for dinner, and didn't want to carry an awkward package (large pie) into more places than we needed to.
- Our local pizza place. (See reasoning at stop No. 2. Also, like most people, we like our pizza hot, so this made the most sense as the last stop.)
I'm blogging about my slightly silly but real-life "quick fixes" and "task-triage" for a reason: I'm curious about your "household hints" for your fellow oncology nurses -- the practical solutions you've found make your days better and your patients happier and safer. They can be favorite tips you've developed on your own, heard by word-of-mouth from friends and colleagues, learned in a meeting or CE course, or discovered on a well-respected Website.
These "top tips" can be on the patient management/communication side: informed consent, safe and accurate administration of therapy/infusions, promoting patient adherence/compliance with treatment, patient safety issues like fall prevention, or anything down to the smallest practice nugget that simplifies your work life. They can also be approaches on the nursing side that have helped with specific staff/workforce issues: management teams, breaks and coverage, shift-change concerns, workplace aggression or violence, staff recognition, support for compassion fatigue/grief, and more.
While many of these practical tips likely represent strategies that evolved from experience or were learned from colleagues, sometimes they're more formal, complex, and officially recognized in the context of evidence-based practice... like the Excellence Every Day Portal, from Massachusetts General Hospital.
One of these MGH portals, for instance, focuses on ways to prevent hospital-acquired central line infection, and offers healthcare providers at MGH policies and procedures toolkits, nursing narratives on this topic, and patient education resources.
What are some of your nursing tips when it comes to specific tasks or situations? What helps you do the magic that you do? Let's share!