Health

Public Health Interventions Applications for Public Health Nursing Practice

The public health agency provides the central intake function for children with special needs for the entire county. Physicians, schools, the local follow-along program, public health nurses, social workers, and others refer children. Intake PHNs attend weekly meetings with the multi-disciplinary early intervention team, which includes public health nursing, speech, occupational therapy, special ed, social work, and others. The team determines who will coordinate the initial assessment and service plan. The PHNs’ central intake responsibilities include compiling quarterly reports on the types of special needs that are being referred, the timeliness of the team response, and the types of services the child and family ultimately received.

Relationships to Other Interventions

Surveillance focuses on significant health threats such as contagious diseases but is also used with other health events such as chronic diseases, injury, and violence. Like investigation of disease and other health events, surveillance collects and analyzes health data. Unlike investigation, however, surveillance is an ongoing process that detects trends and seeks to identify changes in the incidence and prevalence (that is, the combined number of old and new cases at any one point in time). Many texts treat surveillance and investigation of disease and health events as a single intervention.

Acquire necessary knowledge of the problem, its natural course, and its aftermath

The PHN should make sure that their knowledge about the problem is up to date and complete. An understanding of the problem’s natural course of history is especially important. This is the course that the condition would predictably take if nothing were done to intercede. For example, progressive pulmonary tuberculosis kills 50 percent of those infected within 5 years if left untreated. Dental caries continues to decay without treatment. Children with amblyopia, without treatment, eventually lose vision in the affected eye.

Surveillance systems may be either ongoing or time-limited

Systematic collection of data over time on selected diseases or health events that impact the health of the population. Examples include registries (for example, immunization, birth defect, cancer) or child maltreatment and vulnerable adult reporting systems.

Sentinel surveillance systems are special cases of surveillance that track single key health indicators in the general or special populations. A sentinel health event is a case of unnecessary disease, unnecessary disability, or untimely death whose occurrence is a warning signal that the quality of preventive and/or medical…care may need to be improved.  For example, infant death from methemoglobinemia is a sentinel event for water contamination, as is the occurrence of mesothelioma for asbestos exposure, maternal death from any cause, or an outbreak of rubeola.

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BEST PRACTICES for Surveillance

Best practices are recommendations promoting excellence in implementing this intervention. When PHNs consider the following statements, the likelihood of their success is enhanced. The best practices come from a panel of expert public health nursing educators and practitioners who developed theories blending the literature with their practical expertise. These best practices are not presented in any ranking or particular order; each may not apply to every implementation of the intervention.

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