"Work short" Love, mgmt

  1. We recently discovered a memo in the house supervisor's office from administration that clearly instructs the house sup.'s to work the floor short (no agency) if an employee calls in sick. I work med-surg. I guess they think the nurse's peer pressure will prevent unnecessary call-in's. This doesn't seem right or safe to me. I was thinking of the legalities of this and what would happen if there were a sentinel event (not to mention increased back injuries, nursing burn-out, patient satisfaction, med errors, etc...)?

    Ever seen a memo like this?
    Kris
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  2. 24 Comments

  3. by   Katnip
    No, I've never seen a memo like this.

    Unfortunately, the only way management is going to see the light is when a sentinel event does occur and the hospital gets hit up for it. Even then, they might find a way to pinpoint it on something else, say a nurse's incompetence.

    I had to take nursing management classes. One question that everyone got wrong on a test was:

    When employees work short staffed:

    a. The same amount of work will get done

    b. Less work will be done

    c. More work will be done

    The correct answer was a. Everyone disagreed. I brought it up with my husband who was a director in another industry and he agreed. He said that people will, for a time at least, fill in the gaps for the missing person and the necessary work will get done as usual.

    That's what textbooks are teaching managers, and so they go with it. Unfortunately, I believe that statement is true on a very short term, but not for the long haul like so many hospitals are trying to do.
  4. by   Kashlee
    Hello,

    I have been a nurse for about 4 years, and I was a cena for about 7 years before that. I have worked in long term care the whole time. One thing I have come to realize that the top priorit for the Managament, including the cooperate people is Money. Money will always come before patient care. We work short, they have done budget cuts, stopped sending out morning snacks, and afternoon snacks for the patients becasue its not in the budget. I love being a nurse, taking care of people, but it gets hard when management is thinking "how much will this cost" instead of "how will this help the patient".
    We do not use agency for that reason, MONEY! The more that is saved on the floor (meaning the less that is used for the patients) the more that will go into the pockets of the cooperate and management.

    Now I have never worked in a hospital, but I assume its probably the same.

    Kathy
    Michigan
  5. by   Lisa CCU RN
    Quote from Kashlee
    Hello,

    I have been a nurse for about 4 years, and I was a cena for about 7 years before that. I have worked in long term care the whole time. One thing I have come to realize that the top priorit for the Managament, including the cooperate people is Money. Money will always come before patient care. We work short, they have done budget cuts, stopped sending out morning snacks, and afternoon snacks for the patients becasue its not in the budget. I love being a nurse, taking care of people, but it gets hard when management is thinking "how much will this cost" instead of "how will this help the patient".
    We do not use agency for that reason, MONEY! The more that is saved on the floor (meaning the less that is used for the patients) the more that will go into the pockets of the cooperate and management.

    Now I have never worked in a hospital, but I assume its probably the same.

    Kathy
    Michigan
    I agree with this statement fully and it only reinforces another statement that has been in the Bible for thousands of years: " For the love of money is the root of ALL evil".

    I believe this with more conviction with every passing day.
    Loving money more than people will never lead to any good.
  6. by   southern_rn_brat
    In my facility, the staff (especially the CNAs) complain constantly that they work short.

    We dont schedule them short. When the schedule is made there is more than enough staff. Their call ins make them short.

    I have spent hours and hours on the telephone trying to cover shifts when people call in, only to be yelled at by staff members when they get to work and discover they are "working short". Agencies are not alot of help unless you have prescheduled with them.

    so I guess I am one of those people that says "talk to your peers" when I hear complaints of being short staffed.

    I realize this is not what this thread is about but I really wanted to vent a tad lol

    I have actually went into the bathroom to compose myself because I had spent so many hours on the phone doing my best to beg people to come in on their off days, trying to make "deals" (you know the kind..if you work today, I will let you off thursday type), calling every agency in town and still couldnt find anyone to help. Then when the CNAs come in for that shift I get yelled at, have to listen to the complaints of "I am SO TIRED OF WORKING SHORT" (especially when the person screaming that usually called in the week before). It is really frustrating for me! If I had a magic wand, dont they think I would have used it??


    In answer to the OP though lol, I have never seen a memo like that. I have got them that I couldnt use agency but not to intentionally short staff a shift.
  7. by   fergus51
    I think there is a difference between being unable to find people to come in (staff or agency) and not trying to find people to come in.

    I will complain if I costantly have to work short because if it's a constant problem then it is management's job to come up with a solution. Management can not expect that staff will never call in sick, that's just unrealistic. Given that, management needs to put some efforts into hiring more PRN staff, finding aides, floats, working out some agreements with agency, staffing FOR call ins before they happen, etc. Our unit recently started having 2 nurses per shift scheduled as "helpers". They are there to do transports, go to deliveries, help with any assignments that are really busy, provide guidance to new grads, help with admits, etc. If we get call ins, there are two people who can pick up assignments. It has made a HUGE difference in the morale on the unit.
  8. by   prmenrs
    Quote from cyberkat
    No, I've never seen a memo like this.

    When employees work short staffed:

    a. The same amount of work will get done

    b. Less work will be done

    c. More work will be done

    Actually, the correct answer is d. More mistakes will be made. And the institution opens itself up to substantial legal costs. ?Punitive damages, anyone???

    Management is forgetting that the business we're in is human lives, not a production line. :angryfire

    Sheesh. Why should we have to explain this to them????
  9. by   jnette
    Quote from prmenrs
    actually, the correct answer is d. more mistakes will be made. and the institution opens itself up to substantial legal costs. ?punitive damages, anyone???

    management is forgetting that the business we're in is human lives, not a production line. :angryfire

    sheesh. why should we have to explain this to them????
    we shouldn't have to. they already know it. just don't want to hear it or be reminded of it. it's not profitable. :stone
  10. by   Tweety
    Quote from prmenrs
    Actually, the correct answer is d. More mistakes will be made. And the institution opens itself up to substantial legal costs. ?Punitive damages, anyone???

    Management is forgetting that the business we're in is human lives, not a production line. :angryfire

    Sheesh. Why should we have to explain this to them????

    I agree!!!

    While I haven't seen a memo for us to work short, we're mandated no agency, so it ends up the same thing. They save a agency nurse for a shift, but they ultimately are paying a higher price.
  11. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Quote from prmenrs
    Actually, the correct answer is d. More mistakes will be made. And the institution opens itself up to substantial legal costs. ?Punitive damages, anyone???

    Management is forgetting that the business we're in is human lives, not a production line. :angryfire

    Sheesh. Why should we have to explain this to them????
    AMEN to that sister.
  12. by   MrsWampthang
    What a statement. The LTAC I recently started working for is all about money too. Their nurse to patient ratios is ridiculous at times. Corporate has no idea what constitutes good patient care. The hospital I came from spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on hiring people from the Six Sigma Group to come in and tell them how to run patients through the hospital more efficiently thus increasing customer satisfaction. Sheesh!!! And then spent that much sending current employees to training to become "black belts" so they could come in and train employees. If that hospital would have saved all that money and instead turned the problem over to the nurses, they would have had problems solved a lot less cheaply. But no one ever asks the ones who take care of patients how to improve everything around these facilities. Oh well. Someday these same corporate people will be patients in these facilities they are cutting staff in and maybe they will realize the problems they caused by cutting staff so much.

    Pam
  13. by   Judee Smudee
    You really have to feel it in you own body and mind to understand what working short does to you. I worked short over Christmas and New Years both holidays. I am completely emotionally and physically exhausted. It is all I can do to keep from bursting into tears over any little thing. Fortunately I am part time and now have five days off in row. I know from experience that I will begin to perk up as time passes. It is the full timers that I worry about. Now enough downtime for full time people to recover.
  14. by   BamaBound2bRN
    Question for the OP- how was the memo "Found in the House Supervisor's office?" If you are going off of the memo alone, then are you not jumping to the paranoid conclusion. In my previous career, I received an e-mail (along with every other field manager) from our exec. vp as a directive to some very unpopular changes. We were scheduled to have a conference call to discuss it, but me in all my charm decided not to wait and called the VP to air my concerns. The VP saw my point of view and decided to scrap the plans. On the conference call, others were angry and litterally screaming their objections to a plan that no longer exists.

    My point, is just because there is a memo, doesn't mean it is policy. Did you know that in the 13 states that were the originally Colonies, that it is still against the law to "cross a river, stream, or any other body of water on Sunday"- just because it is a written law, doesn't mean you are going to get arrested for crossing the Hudson River this weekend.

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