Nurses lobby for bill to create safe ...

Nurses lobby for bill to create safe patient-care staffing ratios

There are 5 comments on the El Paso Times story from Mar 4, 2009, titled Nurses lobby for bill to create safe patient-care staffing ratios. In it, El Paso Times reports that:

A group of nurses on Wednesday said Texas lawmakers could end inadequate staffing in hospitals by creating mandatory nurse-to-patient ratios.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at El Paso Times.

California RN

Brisbane, CA

#1 Mar 5, 2009
I moved from N.M. to California specifically for safe staffing ratios of 1 R.N. to 6 patients. When I began working for a Psychiatric Adolescent Acute care hospital (PFT) I was responsible for up to 12-13 volatile, unpredictable, often assaultive and self injurious kids. The D.O.N. was counted as the second R.N. even though she was clinically absent/unavailable in another building. When I reported my safety concerns, I was terminated. The facility experienced high turnover, absentism, low morale and a blizzard of adverse event reports which included many trips to the emergency room for injuries to staff and kids. Safe staffing must be mandatory everywhere. The companies that utilize technicalities to avoid safe staffing must be held accountable. I plan to pursue my complaint - I have been an R.N. for 30 years.

United States

#2 Mar 5, 2009
Cal, why do I believe you? Unfortunately this is a current trend that is not only happening in your field but many others as well. You're quite lucky to be in such high demand because way too many Americans do not have that luxury.

Here's a money-making idea for you and a good way to use those 30 years of experience. Write a book real quick and name it The Jungle 2. You can loosely pattern it after the original by Upton Sinclair. I think it's perfect timing to bring the concept to the forefront again. In case you never read it, the link below will give you the crux of the book. Health care, food, you'll make the correlation. God bless you.

Cuyahoga Falls, OH

#3 Mar 5, 2009
Ratios are a simplistic response to a complex problem. It only addresses numbers and does not take into account the needs of patients, severity of their condition, available staff, etc. And a ratio of 1.6/1 would seriously impact the nursing shortage. Where does the NNOC suggest the nurses would come from to provide that kind of staffing? In some cases, caring for 7 patients is not a hardship, sometimes 1 can be difficult. Numbers alone will not provide for safe care. Properly prepared nurses with adequate support staff and equipment, staffing committees that are familiar with the needs in their facility/area and charged with developing proper staffing levels and given the authority by law to do so will provide the kind of staffing that will attract and keep nurses in nursing. In those states where ratios have been adopted, it has yet to be proven that it has improved patient care and safety or increased nurse satisfaction.
Concerned fellow RN

El Paso, TX

#4 Mar 6, 2009
I have to disagree with Joyce, while I agree that we need properly prepared nurses with adequate staff that is not the case. I too work in the hospital setting however I work at Las Palmas and I can not count the number of new nurses who have left after only working in the hospital setting for 6 months. You can graduate all of the nurses you want but if the conditions are unsafe they will not stay. We do not have a nursing shortage we have a shortage of nurses willing to work in the hospital. In the 5 years I have worked, I have seen countless RN's leave to work as a school nurse, home health, or for insurance companies where they are not putting their license on the line or risking the patientís lives. Would you want your child to be this nurses 7th patient who is so overwhelmed that she is unable to see deterioration in his status or waiting for hours for his pain med? The fact of the matter is this nurse does not have only 7 patients for an entire 12 shift, it does not include the discharges and admissions that some throughout the day, when it is all said and done you could have had 12 or thirteen. While I understand that each unit is different and each particular area needs it own staffing ratio set. We have always left the decision up to the hospitals which is why we are in the situation we are in now. They are unable to regulate themselves and are only concerned with making a profit. These minimum standards need to be set if we are to reduce the number of complications, infections or tragic mistakes that patients endure due to unsafe staffing.

Simmesport, LA

#5 Mar 7, 2009
I work in a hospital where 7-10 is the norm pt load. Seven feels like a light load, and that is with pts that are confused, or have peritoneal dialysis exchanges, accuchecks, chest pain.......... A 3-1 pt ratio is reserved for our ICU nurses and sometimes they are 5-1, and our employer is trying to decrease the number of full time employees to save money since the new medicare restrictions came into view. I am one of those, that if conditions don't change, might look at insurance companies or pharmacy distributors....Burnout is not a hard place to see when you work in these kind of environments.

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