Junior Hong Kong nurses set for supervision in performing risky procedures in bid to reduce hospital blunders

Retired nurses to be rehired by Hospital Authority to oversee work of newly appointed staff

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 August, 2016, 12:01am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 August, 2016, 12:01am

The Hospital Authority will boost training for junior nurses by having retired nurses supervise them while they perform risky medical procedures. The scheme, to be launched later this year, is aimed at reducing the number of blunders.

The measure follows a decision by the Hospital Authority to train older nurses in teaching skills. Authority chairman Professor John Leong Chi-yan revealed in June that a new mentorship programme for nurses would be introduced following a spate of medical blunders involving nurses.

One of the recent cases involved a nurse from Queen Mary Hospital’s intensive care unit who failed to follow standard practice in May in removing a catheter from an 83-year-old patient, who felt unwell 10 minutes later and subsequently died from complications.

The new programme, which focuses on procedures such as tube feeding, blood transfusions and distribution of medicine, will be launched “as soon as possible” once details have been confirmed.

Retired staff will be used to instruct young nurses, who will initially receive training for two to three days while working on a part-time basis.

“These nurses are all highly experienced, but they need to learn how to teach and lead their mentees,” said Alice Wong Yuk-ngan, head of the authority’s Institute of Advanced Nursing Studies which will arrange training for the mentors.

“Nurses from younger generations usually have a lower ability in handling adversity. They might need more encouragement and praise,” Wong said, adding that the older ones have to learn how to convey messages more effectively, such as what tone to use in pointing out mistakes.

While the mentorship scheme will not be limited to specific wards, Wong said medical and surgical units would benefit.

Every year, around 1,300 graduate nurses are recruited to work in the city’s public hospitals.

The new scheme will be an addition to the existing two-year programme, which was first introduced in 2002 to help graduate nurses adapt to the working environment.

While the current scheme, which is now under review, helps new nurses to be more familiar with daily operations in the ward, the new scheme will focus more on high-risk procedures.

Joseph Lee Kok-long, who chairs the Association of Hong Kong Nursing Staff, said the enhanced training could not properly address the problem.

“Junior nurses have to undertake job rotation at two wards within three years. After they have learned skills in one ward, they would then be assigned to another and then learn everything all over again,” Lee said.

Lee is one of the two candidates running for the seat to represent the health services functional constituency in next month’s Legislative Council elections. The other is Philip Choi Pui-wah, a cluster general manager for nursing with the authority.