With concerns growing about a nursing shortage, hospitals are looking at ways to improve retention of the nurses they have on staff. Susan Meyers at Nurse.com (via RWJF) reports on an initiative at Los Angeles’s Cedars-Sinai Hospital to improve physician-nurse communication in order to boost morale:

With nearly a nine-year jump on the [MD-RN Collaborative], Cedars-Sinai has seen many positive benefits stem from the collaborative, including safer and more efficient care, a greater focus on patient-centered care, increased nurse retention, improved satisfaction among physicians, nurses and patients, and a more pleasant work environment, says Chris Ng, MD, physician co-chairman of the collaborative. “According to senior physicians, the interaction between doctors and nurses is like night and day,” Ng says. “The nurses are now treated with respect and as equal partners in care, and this translates into better quality of care.”

Meanwhile, a new GAO report on nursing at the Veterans Administration (via the WSJ Health Blog) cites mundane work (including answering phones and housekeeping duties) and insufficiently flexible schedules as problems that reduce nurses’ morale and impede recruitment and retention.

In other news:

Associated Press: Over the last 11 months, nine emergency medical helicopter crashes have killed 35 people (including patients and crewmembers); the National Transportation Safety Board says the Federal Aviation Administration has responded too slowly to recommendations that it improve the safety of EMS flights.

NIOSH: An average of 197 landscape workers died each year from on-the-job injuries during 2003-2006, making this industry’s fatality rate similar to those for agriculture and mining.

Army Times: A trash-incineration pit at the largest U.S. military base in Iraq, Joint Base Balad, raises concerns about hazardous exposures for tens of thousands of troops, contractors and Iraqis.

Washington Post: Stock-market turmoil has caused many public pension funds to lose as much as 20% of their value.

New York Times: Infections like staph are common among athletes of contact sports like football, due to skin-on-skin contact, frequent cuts, and locker-room environments.