Bring disabled nurses back to work in the ED

Work with your occupational health department to bring ED nurses back to work who cannot lift or are restricted in activities, but are able to walk and talk, recommends Susan Sheehy, RN, MSN, MS, CEN, FAAN, director of nursing for emergency services at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Disabled nurses can be of enormous assistance in the ED by helping to link communications between patients and providers, especially when the ED is very busy, says Sheehy. "These nurses can help with numerous other things that you have good intentions of doing, but for which you simply run out of time."

ED nurses with disabilities can do the following tasks, she suggests:

• return patients’ calls;

• call patients who left without being seen to ensure that patient received the help they needed;

• assist with family members;

• help interpret diagnostic tests and results;

• help locate lost objects;

• perform telephone follow-ups on lab culture reports;

• accompany a family member if your ED permits family presence during resuscitation;

• arrange follow-up appointments;

• visit patients who were admitted to the hospital from the ED;

• send sympathy notes.

"It’s a great way to have extra help available and a great way for a nurse who would be sitting home because of an activity restriction to return to work and be able to interact with patients," says Sheehy.