November 19, 2011 Leave a comment
At a time when the baby boom generation -an estimated 78 million- is entering retirement who will care for them in their so-called golden years.
Hospitals driven by profit margins and not quality care have cut nursing staff and reduced Nurse to Patient ratios to Dangerously low levels. By 2005, roughly half a million U.S. registered nurses (about one fifth of the national total) had chosen not to work in nursing. It is projected that if current trends continue by 2010 that the U.S. will need to train 1.1 million new nurses by the year 2012, which is estimated to be half of our current nursing level.
Hospitals have addressed the pressing needs of their Shareholders by pushing the equation down the line to the nursing staff. Or even further by passing down tasks formerly performed by professionally educated and clinically trained nurses to less educated staff members.
They are now Giving nurses Dangerously high patient counts to care for it is not their concern that the patient receives quality care.
Nurses without the needed resources, horrid working conditions coupled with the nurses well founded fear they cannot adequately care for their patients are all leading to a profoundly troubling conclusion. This should be disturbing for us all as countless nurses have come to realize they can no longer adequately perform their duties and leave the profession altogether.
When patient ratios rise nurses cannot properly monitor their patients they just don’t have the time. Drugs along with their importance of timely delivery which are extremely important if not imperative to treatment are quite often given at a later time all to the patients detriment and this is just one aspect.
There was a time when nurses could properly monitor their patients not only checking their vitals but also observing the overall organism which is the patient. The fingernails, skin color the presentation of the eyes changes in respiration and more. Patients on ventilators require even more time to be clinically observed for signs of distress or deterioration.
Case in point fifty year old patient whom staff denotes is agitated and has to be restrained. Shift after shift given their precious few moments to see the patient all verbally note this as does a respiratory specialist and a speech pathologist. This occurs over a 3 day period when finally a more well rounded RN checks on the patient at the beginning of her shift. Within 5-10 minutes a syringe with a semi-neon substance is brought in the unit and is injected into the patient. The agitation ceases the restraints are no longer needed the patient is still semi-lucid as they were before only now more relaxed.
This nurse for whatever reason read the patients chart and took the time to observe and even though she fell a little behind in her duties, she treated the patient. Here this poor man unable to communicate as he had a trach tube, was in rather excruciating pain. Luckily for him a skilled, caring and comprehensive nurse who had not yet suffered burn-out was handed his chart for the day along with many others. If it were not for this lucky occurrence of events who knows how long this man would have suffered needlessly.
Doctors see patients however Nurses carry out and truly care for the patient in a day to day setting.
As long as hospitals only address the issues of their Shareholders (stock holders) and keep inventing methods to improve Profits without a care in the world to Patient care we will all suffer. Until nursing staffing levels and working conditions are addressed this extremely troubling trend will continue in medicine as hospitals further deteriorate.
For the 78 million baby boomer’s who will require extensive, complicated and more demanding procedures and care the outlook is Bleak.
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