Opioid Abuse

If you live in the United States then chances are you know someone that has died of opioid abuse. The statistics of deaths related to opioid use are staggering and unfortunately they are also unique to the United States. For a cause of death that is preventable many would argue that doctors and nurses are not doing enough to combat the use and abuse of these drugs. Many are now saying that it is their responsibility to fight the rampant over-prescribing and abuse of drugs like OxyContin, hydrocodone, and Percocet.

Opium derivatives are legal but have many of the same risk factors of heroin, a well-known deadly drug. Heroin abuse comes with an estimated lifespan of a mere seven months from first-use to death. Those that make it longer play the odds and rarely make it more than a few years without either getting arrested and being forced to quit, or rehabilitating on their own…or dying.  If you don’t think then prescription drugs and street drugs are comparable then the statistics may surprise you. According to CNN, of the deaths that are caused by legal opiate abuse, the deceased have an average lifespan of 33 months from first to last use.  The worst part is that legal opiates don’t just affect the people whom they are prescribed to. Recipients of legal opiates frequently sell their prescriptions for their higher street value. The use of opiates in the United States is not confined to one age or demographic, though abuse is higher among middle to upper class whites. Many people start out “normal,” combatting pain either because of age or from an accident, and then end up addicts after several months of use. The dosage for opiates continues to grow the more they use, and death becomes a serious risk when the patient is doubling or tripling their prescription to get the same affect.

Doctors and nurses need to exhaust every option for pain management that they can before prescribing opiates. Even in the hands of responsible patients, it is difficult to control the outcome that the drug use will have on them or the people around them.


International Nurses Week

In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared the second week of May “National Nurses Week.” The week of May 6th to May 12th is dedicated to nurses everywhere for their compassion and service, but it was originally started as International Nurse Day in remembrance of the work of Florence Nightingale. Florence Nightingale is considered by many to be the founder of the modern nursing profession. She served as a nurse during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the Crimean War. She is most noted for helping to establish the first nursing school in the world, St. Thomas’ Hospital in London which later became a part of King’s College. International Nurse Day occurs on Florence Nightingale’s birthday – May 12th.

National Nurses’ Week highlights the work of nurses in the United States. Some of the initiatives that nurses have undertook since they became a recognized and regulated profession in the U.S. include responding to disasters and times of crisis, including war, in the United States and in foreign countries. Nurses often volunteer their service if they are not called to act. Nurses in large cities can work with the homeless and with disenfranchised families to help provide basic medical care, advice, and family planning services. School nurses are tasked with caring for children and dispensing medications or giving first-aid care. It is easy to see within these examples the important role that nurses play in our society. If you know a nurse, you should wish them a Happy National Nurse Day or Week and perhaps do something nice to show that you care. Their service is often undervalued despite the fact that they frequently work hours that are just as long as those that doctors’ work if not longer, and have a great responsibility when it comes to people’s health.


How to Take Patient Histories

One of the many numerous responsibilities taught in an online Medical Assistant school is to keep track and record patient histories. Now you may be asking yourself, what exactly is patient histories? But that question only lasts about a minute before you realize that it is as the name suggests – the history of any given patient. These histories include records of the patients’ past, any and every previous illness, any past surgeries and medical procedures, and former vaccinations as well.

When you’re working in a medical facility and a new patient comes in for a visit, as a medical assistant you will be responsible for creating new records for these patients. For patients who become regulars at the clinic or facility you work for, however, you only have to refresh/update what information is already on record. For instance, you would write about any new illnesses that have occurred, surgeries that have come to pass, and what medication they have recently taken – whether it was prescribed or over the counter.

Here are few things medical assistants do when recording a patient’s history:

  1. Be warm and inviting – in order to record a patients history you have to engage in conversation with them. This can be difficult since with new patients you’ll be a new face to them. Be warm and inviting and greet them in a friendly manner. If they warm up to you they will give you the kind of information you need with ease.
  2. Get down to the nitty gritty – After a patient has warmed up to you it’s time to ask for details. You have to really get a lot of detailed information from them. A lot of it will not only help you with record keeping, but will help the doctor as well before even coming in to make an analysis.

Electronic Health Records Infographic from ONC


How Medical Assistants Can Prepare For the Flu

Flu season is coming around again, and it is a tough time for every medical facility ranging from hospitals to physicians’ office to even the walk-in clinics and centra cares.

It’s hard to avoid the flu in most cases, and this is due to the fact that it is such a common illness that it makes it way around as easily as the common cold. So what can medical assistants, who are at the front of this disease battle, do in order to not only protect themselves but also keep themselves from getting sick, and providing tips to patients in order to overcome the flu.

Get a Flu Shot

A lot of people swarm clinics before flu season in order to get the latest vaccination against the flu. It’s a preemptive strike so to speak against the flu and it prevents a lot of people from catching it later on. However, if you are a medical assistant just know that you should make some time to get vaccinated yourself. You’ll be working long hours assisting with the vaccination, but try and get it done at a walk-in clinic or local pharmacy store. These places often advertise that they have one minute vaccinations, so take full advantage of it and get it done.

By vaccinating yourself your body will be prepared for the numerous amounts of people who will contract the flu due to not getting their flu shot. The flu is highly contagious to those who didn’t get the shot, and it will only be a matter of time before you yourself come down with it from assisting patients who are sick.

Another way in which a medical assistant can be prepared for flu season is by keeping their immune system up through use of vitamin C, and washing or sanitizing their hands after dealing with every patient.


Flu vaccine infographic