UPI article: Nsg shortage

  1. Just found this in the news:

    Nursing shortage a crisis in US hospitals
    By Katrina Woznicki
    UPI Science News
    From the Science & Technology Desk
    Published 10/22/2002 4:00 PM
    View printer-friendly version


    WASHINGTON, Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Nurses are getting older and there are fewer of them, leaving patients and hospitals in serious trouble as a work shortage reaches a crisis level in American hospitals.

    Nursing advocates warn the staffing situation in hospitals is getting worse and a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds the higher the patient-to-nurse ratio in a hospital, the greater the likelihood of patients dying or suffering life-threatening complications from surgery.

    The findings also show high patient-to-nurse ratios are linked with nurse burnout and feeling dissatisfied with their jobs.

    "The flight of nurses from hospitals is the source of the problem of too few nurses," lead study author Linda Aiken, of University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in Philadelphia and a registered nurse, told United Press International in a telephone interview. "Nurses' salaries, for example, have been absolutely flat. So here we have an acute shortage of nurses with no wage response."

    Aiken's study looked at surveys of 10,184 nurses at 168 general hospitals. It also analyzed the outcomes of 232,342 patients at these hospitals who ranged in age from 20 to 85 and had been treated between April 1, 1998, and Nov. 30, 1999. Researchers then looked at patient complications and death rates during the 30 days after patient admission to the hospital.

    After adjusting for hospital size and staff, the study showed each additional patient per nurse was associated with a 7 percent increase in the likelihood of dying within 30 days of hospital admission. For example, Aiken noted, the difference from four to six patients per nurse compared to four to eight patients per nurse translated into a 14 percent and 31 percent increase in mortality, respectively. For every additional patient, job burnout among nurses rose by 23 percent and job dissatisfaction went up by 15 percent.

    Similar findings were echoed in Washington, where the report "Health Care's Human Crisis: The American Nursing Shortage" was released.

    "Nursing has simply become less and less attractive to women," author Edward O'Neill of the Center for the Health Professions at the University of California at San Francisco, stated in the report.

    O'Neill's report said the average age of today's nurse is 44 and low salaries, difficult hours and a high-stress environment make it difficult for hospitals to recruit younger nurses.

    Previous reports have mirrored those conclusions. In one published in the June 14, 2000, issue of JAMA, Peter Buerhaus of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in Nashville, Tenn., warned over the next two decades the nursing population will continue to gray, while failing to recruit younger workers.

    Based on current trends, Buerhaus predicted "the total number of full-time equivalent RNs (registered nurses) per capita is forecast to peak around the year 2007 and decline steadily thereafter as the largest cohorts of RNs retire. By the year 2020, the RN workforce is forecast to be roughly the same size as it is today, declining nearly 20 percent below projected RN workforce requirements."

    "This is both an age-driven and work condition-driven shortage," Marla Salmon, dean and professor of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University in Atlanta, told UPI. "I would call it a failing demographic equation."

    Salmon, who also is director of the Lillian Carter Center of International Nursing, an organization named after Nobel Laureate Jimmy Carter's mother, added less than 10 percent of all nurses in the United States are under age 30. Nursing in the emergency room, the operating room and intensive care units "are appearing to be particularly hard hit," she said.

    The federal government is trying to alleviate the problem. On Aug. 1 President Bush signed into law the Nurse Reinvestment Act, which seeks to increase scholarships to nurses and improve recruitment and retention. The bill had bipartisan support in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

    "(However), there is no appropriation for it, so basically the bill has not been funded," Aiken said.

    While nursing advocates wait for implementation of the new law, hospitals are attempting to make progress on their own, according to Pamela Thompson, chief executive officer for the American Organization of Nurse Executives, a subsidiary of the American Hospital Association based in Washington, D.C.

    "I think the hospitals are working on multiple fronts to correct the factors that have led to the shortage," Anderson told UPI. "Potentially (it) could get worse from a numbers point of view."

    Such corrections include hospitals offering on-site day care, an attractive incentive geared toward younger women and men with children, better pay, and nursing education tuition reimbursement, Thompson said.

    Copyright 2002 United Press International
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  2. 4 Comments

  3. by   Youda
    <yawn>
    How many ways can the same thing be said.
    How many people can say the same thing?
    And How many times do the suits have to hear it before they do something about it?
    And how many senators and congressman voted for a bill without funding just so they can say they did something.
    <yawn>
    Same song, second verse.
  4. by   oramar
    I wonder if this problem of congress not funding this bill could be approached from another direction. Could a lawsuit against congress be filed saying that once they pass something they must fund it? It is disgusting to see politicians on TV reaching back and giving them selves a back pat when they did not fund the thing.
  5. by   Youda
    If you're interested in what did get funding from our 107th,
    http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app02.htm
  6. by   NRSKarenRN
    as reported in philadelphia inquirer---

    study: nursing shortage deadly
    penn researchers found surgical death rates rose with each patient added to a nurse's workload.
    by marian uhlman
    inquirer staff writer
    http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/4348771.htm


    full journal of american medical association(jama) article:

    hospital nurse staffing and patient mortality, nurse burnout, and job dissatisfaction
    http://jama.ama-assn.org/issues/v288.../joc20547.html

    also covered for one minute on local news, wpvi channel 6 in philadelphia.

    p.s.: i participated in the 1999 pa survey that linda akiens performed and reports on in this article.
    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Oct 23, '02

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