Monday, February 13, 2017

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter – Nurses Beware?

Should nurses be using social media? Of course, there’s nothing to stop nurses from having social media accounts. These accounts allow them to chat with friends and family members, share photos, and learn about what’s new in the cyberworld. But when social media crosses over into the work and professional world, things can start to get murky.

© Gajus | Dreamstime.com - woman surfing internet

It’s reality – nurses share stories with each other. I don’t know many nurses who don’t swap some at-work tales about particularly memorable patients or situations. We usually are very mindful of not providing details or enough information that someone could be identified, but part of this peer-to-peer sharing can be helpful in allowing us to blow off steam, to get support, or even to learn things about how other nurses may have handled a particular situation. But speaking to one nurse in a social situation and telling a story online where hundreds of people could see it – or more if the story is spread by others – is a different situation. What may not be recognizable to a person in a one-on-one conversation, may be identifiable to someone in a much bigger crowd.

Some nurses have taken this storytelling a step further by taking photos at work and sharing them online. Taking photos and sharing them without the subject’s permission is almost always a no-no, but to do so in a healthcare environment? It seems surprising that any nurse would think that is ok to do. But it has happened. According to a Medscape article, a nurse in a trauma unit did just that.

We also have to think about ourselves, our privacy, and our safety. Unfortunately, not all the people we deal with at work are nice. While most of our patients, clients, and families are good people and wouldn’t want to harm us, there are always a few who are either very unhappy with the care they’ve received (or didn’t, depending on the situation) or are generally unhappy people overall. With it being so easy to track people down using the Internet, the risk of being found through social media by people who may want to cause problems is there.

It’s also possible for patients or families to investigate nurses by looking at their online profiles. If they find photos or comments that could be seen as unprofessional, this could cause conflict at work, and employers may see this as a breech of ethics.

We could argue that what we do on our own time, professional-looking or not, is our own business, but not everyone sees it that way. The Medscape article says: "We violate our patients' trust if there are pictures of us on Facebook behaving unprofessionally, making off-color remarks, or expressing certain opinions online. Patients do see these things, and some are actively looking for them. It's our professional obligation to behave in a certain manner."

Do you use social media? If you do, do you have rules about what you will post and what you won’t?





Wednesday, February 8, 2017

No Time to Exercise - Short Bursts of Activity Work Too

We hear it all the time when it comes to getting exercise: "Just get moving," or "take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator," but do those short bursts of energy really make a difference in our overall fitness levels? For those who are used to seeing friends and colleagues going to the gym for hours on end or running long distances, a shorter time for exercise done at home (or at work) may seem too good to be true. But it's not, say many exercise gurus, including the author of the book One-Minute Workout and a new study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

According to a press release issued today:

"Interval training offers a convenient way to fit exercise into your life, rather than having to structure your life around exercise," says Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster and lead author on the study. "Stair climbing is a form of exercise anyone can do in their own home, after work or during the lunch hour," says "This research takes interval training out of the lab and makes it accessible to everyone."

The researchers performed a small 6-week study (31women) that evaluated two protocols. The women were sedentary before beginning the study. Sessions took place three times a week and took about 30 minutes total over the course of a week, 10 minutes per session for warm up, cool down, and recovery.

© Dirima | Dreamstime.com - Sporty woman running and climbing stairs
The first experiment had subjects performing three 20-second sessions of continuous stair climbing at maximum ability ("all-out") compared with subjects who exercised with the same intensity but on exercise bikes. In the second experiment, the participants vigorously climbed up and down one single flight of stairs for 60 seconds. According to the press release, both protocols increased the participants' cardiorespiratory fitness.  (Note: I was unable to find the study online so I can't be more specific with these findings). Considering how tiring it can be to climb stairs, this doesn't seem to be a stretch.

But not everyone has stairs at home, so if doing stairs isn't your thing, there are other options that may prove equally effective. A new iBook called How to Watch TV and Get Fit, 3 Minutes at a Time, by Debbie Rahman, presents you with a 12-week program that works on helping your cardio, strength, and balance. The book's website has a few sample 3 minute exercise videos (Disclosure: I recently met the art director of this project). Again, this approach may seem too good to be true, but if you're trying to squeeze some exercise into your life but something more structured isn't going to work, a program like this could be the answer.

So whichever approach you use, it's good to know that if you don't have the time or the desire to commit to joining a gym or taking part in lengthy time consuming exercise programs, there is still hope.

Friday, February 3, 2017

What Do Crocheted Octopuses and Preemies Have in Common?

As much as people like to trash Facebook, I have to say it is a great way to learn about ideas and issues around the world - unique things that you may never have heard about otherwise. Take this story for instance.


Researchers from Denmark discovered that premature babies in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) respond positively when they have a crocheted octopus at their side. The crocheted tentacles of the octopuses* remind the tiny babies of their umbilical cord. While babies are in utero, they often
grab hold of their cord as they float around in their cocoon-like home, but once they're born, there's nothing for them to grab on to, other than their life-saving tubes that may be pulled out or dislocated. But babies who were each given a crocheted octopus seemed less stressed. Nurses have observed the babies' heart and respiration breathing rates drop when they are able to hold on to the tentacles. Another important benefit: if the babies are holding and pulling on the tentacles, they are less likely to pull on those tubes.

A hospital in the UK decided to give their premature babies their own octopus to see if it would make a difference, according to an online article in Prima. The nurses in the hospital did find that the octopuses helped their little charges.

First kangaroo care (holding baby to the skin), now octopuses, what next will we find will help those fragile babies?


*This is the correct plural form of octopus :-) 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Snow-Related Heart Attacks May Show Up Two Days Later

Every winter we hear stories about people who have heart attacks after a heavy snowfall. It's not hard to imagine. People who are usually sedentary or moderately active take to shovelling out their driveways or to rescue their cars from mountains of snow pushed to the side of the road. A new study suggests that while the heart attack/snow shovelling connection is valid, it's the moderate snowfalls that seem to have the most effect. In addition, the heart attacks often present two days after the snowfall.

© Luckydoor | Dreamstime.com - Snow Shovel

This large study took place from 2010 to 2015 and looked at over 400,000 adults who had been hospitalized at two hospitals in Boston. The researchers assessed patients who had been admitted with cardiovascular conditions and cold-weather conditions (frostbite and falls/injuries). Interestingly, the researchers found that admissions to hospital for patients with heart disease occurred most often (increased by 23%) after moderate snowfalls, defined as 5 to 10 inches, rather than high snowfalls. Cardiovascular disease admissions actually dropped by 32% on high snowfall days, the authors wrote.

One theory that might explain why moderate snowfalls have more of an effect is that people may stay inside more during heavier snowfalls and that moderate falls seem easier to manage.

So be careful, even if the snowfall isn't drastic and beware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack for a few days after your time shovelling snow:

  • Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw or back.
  • Nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Cold sweat.
  • Fatigue.
  • Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness.