The advanced practice nurse–nephrologist care model: Effect on patient outcomes and hemodialysis unit team satisfaction

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The tertiary care nurse practitioner/clinical nurse specialist (NP/CNS) is an advanced practice nurse with a relatively new role within the health-care system. It is stated that care provided by the NP/CNS is cost-effective and of high quality but little research exists to document these outcomes in an acute-care setting. The clinical coverage pattern by nephrologists and NP/CNS of a hemodialysis unit in a large academic center allowed such a study. Two NP/CNS plus a nephrologist followed two of three hemodialysis treatment shifts per day; only a nephrologist followed the third shift. The influence of this care pattern of patients was examined using a cross-sectional review of outcomes such as adequacy of delivered dialysis, anemia management, phosphate control, hospitalizations, etc. In addition, the level of satisfaction of the dialysis team and perceptions of care delivered with the care models was assessed. The care model staff-to-patient-number ratio was similar in both groups (1:27 for NP/CNS plus nephrologist; 1:29 for nephrologist alone). Patient demographics were similar in both groups but the NP/CNS–nephrologist group had patients with more comorbidities. No statistically significant (p < 0.05) differences existed between the groups in patient laboratory data, adherence to standards, medications, inter- and intradialytic blood pressure, achievement of target postdialysis weights, and hospitalizations or emergency room visits. Significantly more adjustments were made to target weights and medications and more investigations were ordered by the NP/CNS–nephrologist team. Team satisfaction and perceptions of care delivery were higher with the NP/CNS–nephrologist model. It is concluded that the NP/CNS–nephrologist care model may increase the efficiency of the care provided by nephrologists to chronic hemodialysis patients. The model may also be a solution to the problem of providing nephrologic care to an ever-growing hemodialysis population.

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