What is your average day like at work?
Are you appropriately staffed or are you tripled in the ICU? Do your patients see you once an hour or twice a shift? Do you find yourself clocking out so you won’t get ‘in trouble’ for finishing your charting because you were too busy to chart a thing all night?
What are the implications of poor Nurse to Patient ratios?
Comments from the Members of Show Me Your Stethoscope:
Anonymous: I took a 5th ER Patient in the Hallway. He went into V-Tach within an hour. It was a good outcome but very stressful.
Anonymous: When I worked ER as a tech, before I graduated nursing school, we had a bad night staff wise. I needed help with a patient but no one was available. I ended up dislocating my shoulder and tearing my labrum trying to catch a 96 year old patient. He started to fall and I instinctively tried to catch him. 2 surgeries, 2 years on and off of PT and still hurts.
Anonymous: One of my patients, a 95 year old, fell and broke her neck. She died three days later in ICU. It still haunts me to this day.
Anonymous: I made a very serious med error. A long term acute care brain injury patient was on phenobarbital for seizure control. Let’s just say I administered the right dose of the very wrong drug. The patient was not harmed and the physician, supervisor, and patient’s mother were understanding, but I was devastated. I was caring for 15 LTAC patients on 3-11 shift that night. I had been an LPN about 10 years at the time. That was 18 years ago.
Anonymous: When I recently have worked in rehab, 23 patients to me – 1 RN. (Mind you, I was the only RN in the building for over 120 patients as well.) Was supposed to have 2 CNA’s. A CNA from our LTC called off so a CNA from our rehab side was sent to another floor. The one I had was told to “float” between different floors as well.
I had a patient with a trach/foley/Peg tube yank off his O2 20+ times. Had another patient in his 80’s in a C-collar (cervical spine fracture) A+O X 1 yanking it off and I put him back into bed myself 35+times in less than 8 hours. Had another patient that same night actively dying, getting naked in bed hollering out for their loved ones. 23 patients and 1/2 of a CNA. Medication administration on 23 patients; 5 FSBS; 4 sliding scale insulin; 2 IV drips for Vanco; Wound care on 9 patients that night; foley care on 3; Peg tube care on 1; trach care on 1; O2 monitoring on 18 patients; 7 complete bed changes; 14 incontinent patients, and I lived to tell about it. These are real staffing issues. I now do RN case management for home health. I have no desire to go back to floor nursing until staffing becomes a reality. Our licenses are on the line. Patient safety is a severe and sad issue. Facilities care about 2 things: their census and how much money is pouring in from Medicare and Medicaid.
And from the other side of the stethoscope:
Janie Garner: When my sister was in the hospital, they were severely short staffed. A nurse came in to change her PCA pump and kept getting patient related phone calls, and the pump was alarming ‘air in line’. I had to shout to stop her from priming the tubing full of concentrated hydromorphone into my sister’s IV.
Read that last one again. If my sister had been alone in that room, she would have received a fatal dose of dilaudid. If my sister didn’t have a nurse in the family, she would have died. I know what unsafe staffing levels can do from both sides of the stethoscope. And that nurse would have NEVER gotten over it. Let us remember that Nurses have committed suicide over medical errors.
So, safe staffing levels have been an issue since Florence Nightingale put on a cap. The lady with the lamp probably didn’t pee for 12 hours either. There are places in the US where staffing levels are mandated, and it works. It is a proven fact that safe staffing reduces medical errors.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Why are hospitals still refusing overtime when floors are short staffed, and not retaining agency staff or hiring more nurses to keep our patients safe?
- Why does a nurse have oversight for an entire facility, 23 LTAC patients and half a CNA?
- Why do support staff have to be physically harmed because there is insufficient staff to help with patient transfers?
- Why are nurses so rushed that they make medication errors?
I think you can answer this for yourself. There are occasional days where everyone on a nursing unit caught the same virus, but if you are working short every day, it is because your employer is trying to better their bottom line. This is about money for the corporation, not about your patient’s safety and the safety of your license.
If all staff refuse to work under these conditions, your facility will eventually change. Refuse inappropriate, unsafe assignments. Do not move patients by yourself; call your charge nurse or nurse manager and politely demand help.
If you only read the stories of the healthcare professionals that submitted these comments, you can answer for yourself how safe staffing will impact healthcare. You are a member of Nursing. Please protect nurses in places where they have no collective bargaining and fear for their jobs.Share this post with friends!
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