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Quality of nursing can make major difference in hospital stay


Heaven forbid, you shouldn't need to be hospitalized any time soon. But if you are, points out Shukan Post (Nov 16), it's a given that in the course of your stay, you'll spend the greatest amount of time not with a physician or your family members, but with nurses.

The capability of these nurses may have a profound impact on your longevity, because the way these angels in white perform their jobs is, more often than not, a reflection on the quality of the hospital as a whole.

The first thing you need to know, the article points out is that hospitals in this country are suffering from a chronic shortage of competent nursing staff -- to the degree that hospital wards have been closed and the number of sickbeds reduced.

This situation has created a seller's market for good nurses, and their presence or absence can be a key factor in determining the quality of care patients receive, and sometimes even how long they might live.

One patent related what happened to him following surgery, when he developed a sudden pain in his abdomen.

"My attending physician muttered, 'He seems to have developed side effects to the medication.' But the veteran nurse standing beside him said, 'Sensei, might it not be side effects, but complications from the surgery? Maybe we should take X-rays of areas other than from his abdomen.'

"Her diagnosis proved right and they took quick measures. If she hadn't been there, I wonder how I would have wound up," he remarked.

Azusa Miyako, an author also currently employed as a nurse, says such things occur frequently: "Surprisingly, specialists in a certain field don't know much about other fields," she says. "It's a fact that lots of veteran nurses have extensive knowledge, and one of their most important functions is that if a patient's condition changes, they can take one look and figure out what needs to be done, even it it's outside the attending physician's field of expertise."

Another man tells Shukan Post of how, when his 80-year-old father became demoralized after a stroke and refused to undergo rehabilitation, the nurse was able to coax him out of bed by saying, "Don't you want to be able to go for a walk with your grandchild?" Eventually the old man was up and walking again.

"She was still young, but she was very caring," the man recalls fondly.

Unfortunately some nurses can make things even worse.

"The nurse assigned to a patient hospitalized for stomach ulcers always appeared fatigued and irritable, snapping orders at him," a hospital worker relates. "His condition worsened and he began vomiting blood, and surgery was required. Another time, when a patient who was hard of hearing asked his nurse to speak louder, she became infuriated at him, and he suffered apoplexy."

Problems can also arise if a nurse seems too attentive to one patient, spurring other patients to feel they are not receiving the same treatment. Rivalry between nurses, instead of teamwork, can also lead to friction.

"I like to see smiles from nurses at the nurse station," says the aforementioned Miyako. "While some people might get annoyed because they feel this is indiscreet behavior, with me it's the reverse. I think that smiling on the job serves as proof they're well composed, and it shows they're doing their best while maintaining a cheerful spirit, even in a severe environment."

An accompanying sidebar provides helpful advice from insiders for patients or their families who might be considering a show of appreciation to nurses by presenting them with gifts. The rules strictly prohibit cash presents, but a box of chocolates or other items that they can share with their colleagues at the nurse station, on the other hand, are likely to be welcomed. "Even more than gifts, we like to receive a short letter or postcard from patients after they're discharged," Miyako says. "It doesn't even have to mention nurse care -- we just like to hear from them."

© Japan Today

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"Surprisingly, specialists in a certain field don’t know much about other fields"

You can say that again.

Japanese nurses are the best. No wonder many people don't want to leave hospital here.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I've had experience of some good nurses, and of some bad nurses. It's the bad ones you remember, though, isn't it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Once I got hospitalized for an ear infection, and daily, without fail, the nurse brainlessly asked me if my bowels were moving regularly. Finally I got so exasperated I told her, "Look, I'm not in here for intestinal problems!" The story that takes the cake, however was when I went for a CT scan at a Catholic hospital in Shinjuku and the nurse, who was wearing a nun's habit, went down a checklist and asked me, "Are you pregnant?" (I am male.) "Gee," I replied, "That's the first time anyone ever asked me that!"

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Obvious, no? J nurses may be a bit by the book, but they look good.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I was in a hospital for almost two months for a severe virus and the nurses were the best ever. It felt like I was in a hotel because they were courteous, hospitable and showed care in doing their job. They went beyond the call of duty. Totally different from what I experienced when I was hospitalized in the U.S.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"Surprisingly, specialists in a certain field don’t know much about other fields"

Funny, I've met a lot of "doctors" that don't even know much about their own supposed area of expertise. The fact is any doctor can become a "specialist" in any field without any formal accreditation other than a degree from medical school. They are GPs who choose to focus on one thing, because that is the way things are done in Japan - which means you have 5 different doctors you have to see who really no nothing about your health as a whole because they only focus on one thing.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I have a lot of friends and family in the medical profession and know how trying it can be at times. I know about the long hours, shift work, crazy patients and the constant worry about someone losing a life on one's watch.

However, I was absolutelty shocked when a middle-aged nurse was unable to find a vein of mine on the first, or second try...it took her 3 tries! I have nice, big veins that are well contrasted against my milk white skin but she couldn't get the IV into one. She mummbled the whole time to her self "Maybe here, oh...no, that's no good. Maybe here...oh, oh dear, no, oh no, that's not the spot either. Ok, here. Hmm, it's at an odd angle but will have to do". I think I lost a good puddle of blood through the gauze she had propped under the IV for the full hour drip. Needless to say, I am not a fan of being offered an IV in Japan anymore.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Never had to be an inpatient here. knock on wood. But, once, while having an asthma attack, the clinic doctor prescribed me an inhalant entirely different to what I was used to. I told her, I don't think that's what I need, but I trusted her because she was the doctor. Taking the med @ home, I went into a severe asthma attack and had to go to the local drug store to help alleviate the attack. The following day, visiting the same doctor, I told her to give me the medical compendium, and had to show her which drug I needed and wanted. I believe she initially gave me a cortico-steroid, whereas i needed a bronchodilator. That experience has cured me from my attacks! @.@

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Wow, an article stating the obvious....

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Quality of nursing can make major difference in hospital stay

Actually, I find that its the quality of the nurses that makes a difference in a hospital stay...wink wink

2 ( +2 / -0 )


I went for a CT scan at a Catholic hospital in Shinjuku and the nurse, who was wearing a nun's habit, went down a checklist and asked me, "Are you pregnant?" (I am male.)

Haha - lol this is the first time I hear about this happening - talk about being treated like the "test rabbit" ;) She did not bother to lay her eyes on you

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I agree, when the nurses manage the doctors it's usually for the better. Never had the pleasure in Japan though.

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Nurses save lives !

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I agree with this article, which is why the initiative to introduce nurses from other countries like the Philipines so surprised me. It's not that I don't think that these people are inherently inferior - far from it. It's just that so much of the benefit that comes from nurses is linguistically based. Not just what they may say to doctors, but what they say to patients, particularly the elderly.

You could have all the compassion and caring in the world, but It would take years and years for a nurse from a different country to overcome the culture and language barriers to the point that they could do as good a job as a Japanese nurse.

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