Thank you, Linda Laskowski-Jones, for your editorial, "When Disaster Strikes: Ready, or Not?" (April 2010).* People need to be reminded about the dangers of going into a disaster all by themselves or as part of a self-appointed group. Whether the disaster's a result of terrorism, an earthquake, or a hurricane, I agree that responders should be part of an organization that's reputable, has resources, and can use your talents.
I was fortunate to be part of the disaster relief effort in Haiti, working with a well-established group. I landed just 9 days after the quake with supplies donated by my local hospital. We ran into a single person acting on his own who didn't know the language, had few supplies, and lacked direction, breaking all the rules of disaster help. We encouraged him to go home.
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Thanks again for the editorial and the accompanying article.
-DANIEL CRITCHFIELD, RN
Learning from past practices
Your compilation of outdated nursing practices ("Back in the Day," Sharing, April 2010)* highlighted a few frustrating or humorous interventions abandoned by nurses long ago. What you failed to mention is something so basic, so universal, that it can hardly be termed outdated: patient comfort. Whatever happened to helping immobilized patients brush their teeth and wash their hands? Whatever happened to backrubs to ease patient discomfort and anxiety? And what happened to the means to distinguish professional nurses from other hospital employees?
After more than 30 years in nursing, I offer this suggestion to my colleagues: by all means, practice should be evidence-based, but remember we've also abandoned some practices that should be rescued from the trash bin of nursing history.
-LAURAINE A. THOMAS, BS, MS, RN, PHN
La Center, Wash.
"Back in the Day" was an entertaining trip down memory lane. I can add a few items to the list: treating pressure ulcers ("bedsores") with a paste of hydrogen peroxide and sugar; scrubbing bath basins, bedpans, urinals, and emesis basins with powdered laundry detergent before sending them to be steamed and subsequently used on the next patient; and using benzalkonium chloride (in gallon jugs) as the antiseptic of choice.
I must comment, however, on an error I noticed. A quote from Florence Nightingale was dated 1914; she died in 1910.
-SUSAN K. CALLEN, MSN, RN, CEN
* Individual subscribers can also access these articles free online at http://www.nursing2010.com. [Context Link]