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The Top Hidden Epidemics

 

Hidden Epidemics Seen by Nurses Everywhere

Nurses often choose to pursue careers in large hospitals because they will have the opportunity to “see more” when it comes to their chosen specialization. Some of what today’s nurses are seeing – in healthcare settings of all sizes – isn’t necessarily on the surface. In fact, there are a number of hidden epidemics that clinicians deal with every day in urban medical centers, community hospitals, and physicians’ offices alike.

Drug-Resistant Bacterial Infections

For years, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other medical groups have warned against the emergence of drug-resistant bacterial infections. These “superbugs” are mutations of bacteria that have grown stronger over the course of time due to overuse or improper use of antibiotics.

MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a particularly stubborn infection that is experienced in virtually every hospital, at an increasingly alarming pace. What is interesting is that nurses are seeing patients enter the care setting with MRSA already in their systems. This is especially true of individuals who are HIV-positive or have a life-threatening case of the flu.

Baby-Boomer Addicts

Nurse practitioners who specialize in the care of older adults frequently see patients age 50+ who are coping with age-related changes through self-medication with alcohol, painkillers, and barbiturates.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, hospital admissions for alcohol-induced problems are equal to those for heart attacks among older Americans. Yet, physicians and nurses who are not familiar with this patient population frequently miss the symptoms as a sign of alcohol abuse. As our society ages, attention to addiction must also increase.

Teen Suicide

On the other end of the age spectrum is the disturbing increase in teen suicide and suicide attempts. Early signals are often attributed to the general angst that comes with being a teenager in today’s world. At best, teens may be diagnosed with depression and medicated in an effort to avoid future consequences of self-harming behaviors.

Nurse who come in contact with suicidal young people, in a school, community or family practice setting, have an obligation to raise red flags and ask tough questions of parents and teachers who might be in denial. Suicide is a preventable health issue. Today’s pediatric and family nurse practitioners can make a lifesaving difference for families in their community.

If you are inspired to learn more by earning your nurse practitioner degree online, check out Maryville University’s suite of nursing degree programs.