Nurses and Nukes

There are constant reminders that modern humans have a tiger by the tail, that for all of the good nuclear technology has done to cut down on fossil-fuel use and even treat cancer, it is almost unthinkably dangerous in careless or, perhaps, murderous hands, in times of peace and geopolitical unease. Nurses will of course be called on to treat the victims of any nuclear emergency, accidental or not. There is nothing hypothetical about the need. See: Chernobyl; Three Mile Island; Fukushima.

For all of the evidence of why nurses must be ready, are they?

In “National Nurse Readiness for Radiation Emergencies and Nuclear Events,” Tener Veenema, Sarah Schneider-Firestone & colleagues take a stark look at whether U.S. nurses are truly prepared—and willing—finding much work to be done.

“History suggests nurses will be expected to perform triage, minimize radiation exposure, decontaminate, manage trauma, treat burns, and coordinate care for patients,” they write. “Research is needed to identify the specific roles and responsibilities of nurses in radiation emergencies and nuclear response and to ascertain quantitative measurement of the level of national nurse readiness for these large-scale radiation emergency and nuclear events.”

Nursing Outlook, January-February 2019