Last month Travel Nursing Blogs did a post about Alexandra Robbins’ new book The Nurses. Now Robbins is in the news again with an excellent op-ed in the New York Times that explains why we need more nurses.
She begins by sharing a story from a nurse she followed for a year for the book and whom she calls Molly. When Molly, new to her large metropolitan hospital, arrived one day the nurses ending their shifts were in a panic because of their unit was so horribly understaffed. The nurses feared for the safety of their patients and their nursing licenses!
Robbins also writes that while Molly called the nurse-patient ratio “insane” the nurses were all pretty resigned to the conditions, which are unfortunately all too common.
Despite the fact that many studies have cited the various patient risks associated with nurse understaffing nationwide, California is still the only state with a minimum standard set for nurse to patient ratios within hospitals.
Robbins notes that nurses are fully aware of the issue, but are often intimidated, harassed, or otherwise limited from speaking out about it or trying to help make changes in the way things are done. Unfortunately, this can lead to nurses taking on assignments or workloads that they know to be unsafe. It’s a bad situation for patients and nurses.
So why is this major problem being swept under the rug? Often, it’s quite simply because of the chase for higher profits.
“The biggest change in the last five to 10 years is the unrelenting emphasis on boosting their profit margins at the expense of patient safety,” said
David Schildmeier, spokesman for the Massachusetts Nurses Association told Robbins that the issue is exacerbated by an “unrelenting emphasis” at hospitals to boost profit margins “at the expense of patient safety.
“Absolutely every decision is made on the basis of cost savings,” he says.
While Travel Nursing does not magically make more nurses appear, it does strategically place healthcare professionals in jobs at facilities where their expertise is most needed. It also helps hospitals save money in the long run by helping to prevent nurse burnout and control related other issues.
What disadvantages have you and/or your patients suffered as a result of improper staffing levels? Share your thoughts in the comments.