Nurses urged to promote awareness of liver disease risk factors

RCN publishes competency framework for care of people with liver disease 

Nurses are being urged to prioritise the prevention and treatment of liver disease.

Liver disease was once a ‘minority killer’ but it is now the fifth biggest cause of death in the UK, says the RCN.  In England and Wales, deaths from liver disease rose 25% between 2001 and 2009.

The college's revised competency framework sets out what is required of experienced nurses, senior practitioners and consultants. It states nurses should be able to identify risk factors for the three major types of liver disease – alcohol-related, hepatitis B and C, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease – and help individuals make informed choices. The document says nurses should spread the message that having a healthy liver is as important as having a healthy heart, bones or teeth.

The document points to the social stigma attached to liver disease, because of a perception that it is self-inflicted.  

The framework states: ‘Liver patients can be challenging and can have a complexity that requires nurses to draw on multiple skills and talents’.

Most people who die of liver disease do so in hospital, which means nurses have an important role in end of life care planning and delivery, the framework states.

The RCN framework was launched at the British Liver Nurses’ Forum’s annual conference last week.

To read the competency framework, click here.



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