I am an RN in a 37 bed Emergency Room in the second largest city in Illinois. We have recently been told by management that we are going from a 3:1 patient ratio to a 4:1 plus a hallway patient next month due to the "bad economy". Let me first begin by saying we see from 80,000 to 100,000 patients a year and are currently being staffed with 13 nurses per shift on an ideal day, to a low of 10 nurses on the weekend. We all work 12 hour shifts, 3 days per week. Needless to say, there is poor moral and discontent circulating the floor. We have hired 14 new nurses in the past year to rectify the nursing shortage we previously had and finally have shown a significant decrease in "left without being seen" percentages and an increase in our patient satisfaction scores to an alltime high.
My question is are there any regulations that determine how many patients can be assigned to an emergency room RN and what can be done to change the current mandate by upper management? I have strongly voiced my opinion to management and the changes are non-negotiable. Realistically we cannot refuse the assignment and under current situations most of us will be burned out in the near future. Wondering if anyone else has been through a similar situation and how was it handled?