Microchips for nurses

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Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

My dog has a microchip embedded between his shoulder blades, and it's really setting my mind at ease. So I think it might be time for every member of your nursing staff to get one, too.

It's not a difficult or painful procedure. Fizbo didn't complain at all, or file a grievance with his canine union. So line them up and start microchipping. It's only the size of a grain of rice and all it takes is a quick needle stab in a soft bit of flesh. They'll hardly feel a thing.

I suggest this because of the recent news that a large number of skilled nursing facilities may have padded nurse staffing numbers on the Nursing Home Compare website. Shockingly, guilty providers could exceed 80%, or so says the Center for Public Integrity, though I'm suspicious of any organization that puts the word “integrity” in its name. Seems like they're trying too hard, like the shady characters down at Al's Integrity Auto Sales.

So the logical next response to this unsettling trend is microchipping. It's time to remove the self-reporting responsibility from administrators entirely, and just let prospective residents and family members count nurses themselves via online GPS tracking and mapping capabilities. They'll be able to easily log in and see them moving about the building, and quickly know which providers have been lying about the levels.

As with every good plan, there's a flaw, and it all breaks down in Eden Alternative facilities. With all those microchipped pets also wandering around, it will be impossible to tell on a smartphone app which are nurses and which are St. Bernards. Especially since the tracking systems haven't evolved to the point where you could distinguish a stethoscope from a flask of whiskey dangling from the neck.

For those of you not guilty of inflating your staffing numbers, a bonus benefit of mandatory nurse microchipping is that if one of them gets overwhelmed with documentation duties and tries to escape by burrowing under a fence, you'll be able to act quickly and notify someone in the local Department of Nursing Control.  They can drive around town and entice your renegade nurse back into the van by holding a triple venti half-sweet, non-fat caramel macchiato out the window, and then ferry him or her safely back to the facility.

The against-all-odds reunion will be tearful and happy, like the climactic scene in The Incredible Journey, and your investment in tracking technology will never seem more worthwhile.

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a national Silver Medalist and regional Gold Medal winner in Humor Writing in the 2014 Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program. He has amused, informed and sometimes befuddled long-term care readers worldwide since his debut with the former SNALF.com at the end of a previous century. He is a multimedia consultant for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.

Things I Think

Things I Think is written by longtime industry columnist Gary Tetz, who resides in Portland, OR. Since his debut with SNALF.com at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.

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