Hearing challenges, nurse staffing

Read this month's issue and then join the conversation during our Twitter chat.

Communicating well with hospitalized patients can be tricky even in everyday practice. But add the challenge of a patient's full or partial hearing loss and you've got much greater barriers to getting and providing necessary information. Those barriers can be overcome, though, as this month's main story explains. It describes how communication strategies, interpreters, and technology can facilitate clear communication between hospitalists and deaf and hard-of-hearing patients.

Speaking of challenges in the hospital, everyone knows practice is harder when you don't have enough nurses. But what's the right number of nurses to have per ward or ICU patient? And does it make sense for the state to regulate nurse-to-patient ratios? A feature article in this issue delves into those controversial questions, reviewing research, gathering expert opinions, and looking at the impact of regulations.

While we gather opinions and data, your stethoscope may be gathering germs. If you don't already clean it between patients, our article makes a convincing case for why you should start at least giving it a quick swipe with hand sanitizer or an alcohol wipe. A sidebar points out where else bacteria and viruses might be riding along on rounds with you. That is, if you're still doing bedside rounds—this month's Q&A highlights why you might not. Our next Twitter chat will also be focused on this topic. Join us on April 23 at 6 p.m. Eastern.

Our Coding Corner and Test Yourself features share a theme this month—HIV and AIDS. Test your knowledge of these diagnoses with questions from MKSAP 18 and then learn about related documentation issues. Have a question about coding or anything else? Email us at acphospitalist@acponline.org.

Stacey Butterfield