Nurses are on the Frontlines of COVID-19 but Their Expertise Remains Missing from Policy Decisions

Nursing care remains one of the primary treatments for COVID-19, yet the federal task force coordinating the nation’s response to the coronavirus lacks a representative with nursing expertise.

Nurses’ perspectives on this pandemic are unique and essential to informing decisions made by federal leaders, and they should be included in key decision-making groups, urges the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) in a recent letter to federal leaders. AACN represents more than half a million acute and critical care nurses, many of whom are now serving on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Critical care nurses are especially pivotal in the battle against COVID-19, caring for patients who require lifesaving care and technology in intensive care units. Effective vaccines are not yet available, and prospective drug treatments do not eliminate the disease but only shorten its duration.

“Nurses are the largest group of healthcare professions in the United States, and it represents a major gap in perspective to fail to include this group in planning for the future,” said AACN’s chief clinical officer Connie Barden, MSN, RN, CCRN-K, FAAN. “The public has gained new insight regarding the role of nurses in the delivery of health care. Federal leaders should similarly recognize the importance of our unique expertise and impact on patient care and well-being.”

Nurses are at the patient’s side every hour of every day, monitoring their complete physiologic status, analyzing complex data, administering lifesaving medications, collaborating with other healthcare team members, translating information to families, and providing end-of-life presence when families cannot visit due to strict isolation requirements.

The federal government also has an obligation to ensure all healthcare workers have adequate resources, including personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies. Since the early days of the pandemic, AACN has advocated for immediate action to address the ongoing shortage of PPE and provide the supplies required to meet current and future demand.

For example, on May 7, AACN sent a letter to federal leaders, calling on them to take three specific actions to ensure clinicians are safe and have the resources to meet complex patient needs:

  • Include critical care nurses in decision-making groups to leverage their unique understanding of the equipment and supplies required to provide lifesaving care for COVID-19 patients.
  • Use all federal measures available to address supply chain factors that limit the production and delivery of PPE and other medical resources.
  • Apply a well-orchestrated approach to PPE distribution and fair allocation of scarce medical resources.

Source: American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN)

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