Complementary Health Practitioners in the Acute and Critical Care Setting: Nursing Considerations

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Abstract

In response to the rising demand by patients and their families for complementary health approaches, hospitals are increasingly integrating complementary health approaches with their conventional medical practices to create healing environments. Results of the 2010 Complementary and Alternative Medicine Survey of Hospitals indicated that the top 6 inpatient modalities included pet therapy, massage therapy, music or art therapy, guided imagery, relaxation therapy, and Reiki and therapeutic touch. Whether complementary health approaches are provided by complementary health practitioners through hospitalbased integrative medicine programs, volunteer practitioners, or bedside nurses, the regulatory, legal, ethical, and safety concerns remain constant. Previous articles in this column of Critical Care Nurse provided an overview of complementary health approaches that nurses may encounter in their practices, with specific attention to implications for acute and critical care nurses, as well as important legal, ethical, safety, quality, and financial implications that acute and critical care nurses should consider when integrating complementary health approaches with conventional care. This column provides the acute and critical care nurse with key information about validation of credentials, experience, and competence of nurses and volunteers providing complementary health approaches, as well as about institutional policies and scope of practice.

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