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February 21, 2016

Your Hospital’s Secret.

By | Advocacy, Healthcare Policy, Workplace Safety | 12 Comments

Let’s say you went to work tonight on telemetry and were given 8 patients. As we all know, the acuity on telemetry floors has gotten higher, but the staffing is the same or worse. Let us just say that tonight was a completely unmanageable 8:1 ratio.

What will you do? 

Ok so you took the assignment, knowing it was unsafe but that you had no choice if you wanted to keep your job. However, your hospital’s unwritten policy is that you may never, ever tell a patient you are understaffed. So you are constantly getting growled at by patients who want their soda, their bathroom trip, and their pain medications faster. They just think you are lazy. Or slow. Or worse.

What is the big secret? Oh right, patient; they want you to feel safe whether you are or not. Because honesty is not important. Your impression of your care gets you to mark ‘extremely satisfied’ on your survey. Then the hospital can get full reimbursement. Whether you were actually safe or not  AND YOUR NURSE IS FORBIDDEN TO TELL YOU THAT YOU ARE IN DANGER.safe staffing

If healthcare facilities wish to admit patients, they should hire and staff appropriately. They should pay agency staff if necessary, hire more nurses and offer premium pay. There should be no excuse for this awful, unsustainable staffing level.

If the optimal staffing on telemetry is 4:1, then it should never be worse than that. Our patients deserve the best care they can get. We have a responsibility to keep them safe.

When we are discussing long term care, the ratios only get worse, and more dangerous. There are never enough CNA’s to take care of our elders, and they suffer. Make no mistake, they are often neglected, and they are lonely. No one has any time to spend with them. They are also in danger of dying of the simplest things;  UTI+Altered mental status+ fall+ broken hip+ sepsis is a common trend. Just because nobody had time to properly assess them

Would you like to hear my opinion? Probably so since you came all the way to the website to read it.

I believe that all healthcare organizations should have to post that they are understaffed at the front lobby and ER doors. I believe that shift report at the bedside should include: “Mr Smith, our patient to nurse ratio should be 5:1 to keep you safe. Our staffing tonight is 7:1.”  Our patients deserve to know that they are less safe than they should be.

This should be a law, and impact any facility that takes Medicare or Medicaid. Meaning pretty well all of them.

Miraculously, I am sure the staffing would improve immediately.



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