ANA President 'Speaks Up' in USA TODAY
Letter to the Editor, USA TODAY March 18, 2002
Speak Up, And Ask About Nursing Care!
I commend the leaders of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) for introducing "Speak Up: Help Prevent Errors in Your Care," a program that involves patients in preventing deadly medical errors ("Medical Question? Speak Up," March 14). But not mentioned is one critical line of defense for patients: nurses.
Among the questions patients should be asking about the quality of their nursing care:
Will I be assessed and monitored by an RN?
How many patients are assigned to each RN on my unit?
What other health care personnel will be working with my RN?
What are their qualifications, and what tasks will they perform?
Does the facility rely on temporary nurses during staffing shortages?
Are nurses forced to work overtime?
Is my nurse regularly assigned and fully oriented to the unit?
Will an RN brief me on follow-up care?
It is also the American Nurses Association's hope that Congress will "speak out" on behalf of patients and nurses by passing three important bills: the Nurse Reinvestment Act, the Safe Nursing and Patient Care Act, and the Patient Safety Act.
It is only through these and similar government initiatives that we will achieve true safety and quality-of-care for patients and a safe and professional work environment for nurses.
Mary E. Foley, MS, RN
President, American Nurses Association