Monday, December 21, 2009

Hey, NANDA! Watch Your Language!

This one is a beaut. DotMed News carried a story a few days ago about the need for a standardized nursing language, about which I totally agree. Then the article quoted T. Heather Herdman, PhD, RN, Executive Director of NANDA International (NANDA-I). This organization, according to its website, "exists to develop, refine and promote terminology that accurately reflects nurses' clinical judgments." In the article Herdman discussed the value of standardized terminology in the effort to reduce largely preventable errors and accidents, including falls, medication errors, sponges left in abdominal cavities after surgery, and so forth.

Here's where my pain comes in. She is quoted as saying, "A patient care plan written in a language that is understood by all will reduce the risk of never events. It is critical that this point is not lost as we tackle avoidable errors in patient care."

Did I hear her correctly? "Never events"? That's what the profession is calling a med error? What are we, the military?

The term never event makes about as much sense as friendly fire. Why don't we call these problems preventable events? It's so much clearer. But no, we're calling them never events, a term purposely designed to mislead. Now, admittedly Dr. Herdman didn't make up the term herself; it has been around for several years. But I think that if NANDA's core goal focuses on the proper use of terminology, it ought not fall prey to such noxious jargon as never events.

Shame on you, NANDA!