Nurse/Patient Ratios

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    I'm curious to know about the nurse/patient ratios in other hospitals. I am in central Florida on a Cardiac/Telemetry/Med-Surg floor. We take all kinds of cardiac drips, BP drips, Insulin drips, Heparin drips and we are now taking 7 patients each. I work 7p-7a and we have to file all our labs from the previous shift, stuff our charts and draw our morning labs. We have a charge nurse (me sometimes) and she takes six patients. Gone are the days when we could actually develop a therapeutic relationship with our patient, now it has become: do what you have to do to protect your license. I have a co-worker who just came to our hospital from a different one in Florida...they took 10-12 patients each (no drips though). It is truly a nightmare. The management says they care about the patient..NOT TRUE. They care about the numbers. The only time they care about the patient is when one of them is injured/dies under questionable circumstances and the hospital may be sued. Then, they just fire the RN, report her to the nursing board and go about business as usual. Whatever happened to having time to comfort a crying patient or giving special attention to a confused, elderly patient? No time to actually TALK to your patient, other than to say "I need to start an IV on you" Do they have water in their pitcher? I don't know. Would they like an evening snack? Who cares. I have to go take a set of q2 vitals on my guy on the cardiziem drip who's heart rate is in the 130s. God forbid anyone goes bad during a shift...that's when your six other patients have to fend for themselves --that's when your license is blowing in the wind. I understand there is a nursing shortage, but that excuse won't fly when I'm in front of the nursing board! If there is such a nursing shortage, then give us 7 or 8 patients, but hire more CNA's...hire a phlebotomist to do our labs, hire a file clerk to file all the paperwork. Anything that doesn't require a nursing license needs to be done by ancillary staff. The fact that the management in my hospital hasn't taken these steps to allow the nurse to really know her/his patients and take care of them properly re-enforces my belief that it is all about the numbers. Whheeww...glad I got that off my chest. Tell me about your hospital.
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  4. 28 Comments so far...

  5. 0
    I have been coming to this site for about six months now and no one has given a better synopsis of the situation than you. It looks to me that the only thing that is going to stop the problems that you describe are nurse patient ratios mandated by the goverment. Trusting healthcare leaders to do this is just not working. Their only motivation is the bottom line. Gosh you sound like a great nurse. Two thumbs up to you for realizing that your responsibility to the patient goes way beyond just getting through a shift safely. Nurses have to become activist in many different ways if patient safety is really our main concern. I recently retired because I was becomming so fearful about patient safety in the face of rising patient loads. At age 60 I was more frightened than I had ever been before of making a mistake. Would you believe they would haul us in to give us lectures about medication safety, fall prevention and infection control and then send us out of lecture room to care for 24 patients with only an RN, LPN which was me and two aides. I just could not stand the hippocrites I was working for anymore. Signed up for my pension.
  6. 0
    Quote from Judee Smudee
    I have been coming to this site for about six months now and no one has given a better synopsis of the situation than you. It looks to me that the only thing that is going to stop the problems that you describe are nurse patient ratios mandated by the goverment. Trusting healthcare leaders to do this is just not working. Their only motivation is the bottom line. Gosh you sound like a great nurse. Two thumbs up to you for realizing that your responsibility to the patient goes way beyond just getting through a shift safely. Nurses have to become activist in many different ways if patient safety is really our main concern. I recently retired because I was becomming so fearful about patient safety in the face of rising patient loads. At age 60 I was more frightened than I had ever been before of making a mistake. Would you believe they would haul us in to give us lectures about medication safety, fall prevention and infection control and then send us out of lecture room to care for 24 patients with only an RN, LPN which was me and two aides. I just could not stand the hippocrites I was working for anymore. Signed up for my pension.
    Thanks for the kind words. Regarding the fall prevention lecture you talked about, we had several patients one week who kept crawling out of bed and the doctor wouldn't let us restrain them..nursing management wouldn't give us a sitter because it wasn't in our budget and (keep in mind we have 6 and 7 patients) and then low and behold, one of them had a fall. Can you believe we were actually lectured on the importance of patient safety and they set a GOAL for us for the next month...UGH!!!! It is both SCARY and laughable. What is truly hilarious about it is that we, THE NURSES, told the powers-that-be that the patient was going to fall and THEY...the one's who ignored our requests, were the one's giving us the lecture.
  7. 0
    Quote from justmanda
    Thanks for the kind words. Regarding the fall prevention lecture you talked about, we had several patients one week who kept crawling out of bed and the doctor wouldn't let us restrain them..nursing management wouldn't give us a sitter because it wasn't in our budget and (keep in mind we have 6 and 7 patients) and then low and behold, one of them had a fall. Can you believe we were actually lectured on the importance of patient safety and they set a GOAL for us for the next month...UGH!!!! It is both SCARY and laughable. What is truly hilarious about it is that we, THE NURSES, told the powers-that-be that the patient was going to fall and THEY...the one's who ignored our requests, were the one's giving us the lecture.
    If they give you the lecture if a fall occurs it is on your head and not theirs. If State and Joint commission can mandate the lecture why can't they mandate patient ratios.
  8. 0
    Quote from Judee Smudee
    I have been coming to this site for about six months now and no one has given a better synopsis of the situation than you. It looks to me that the only thing that is going to stop the problems that you describe are nurse patient ratios mandated by the goverment. Trusting healthcare leaders to do this is just not working. Their only motivation is the bottom line. Gosh you sound like a great nurse. Two thumbs up to you for realizing that your responsibility to the patient goes way beyond just getting through a shift safely. Nurses have to become activist in many different ways if patient safety is really our main concern. I recently retired because I was becomming so fearful about patient safety in the face of rising patient loads. At age 60 I was more frightened than I had ever been before of making a mistake. Would you believe they would haul us in to give us lectures about medication safety, fall prevention and infection control and then send us out of lecture room to care for 24 patients with only an RN, LPN which was me and two aides. I just could not stand the hippocrites I was working for anymore. Signed up for my pension.

    I wonder if you worked for a VA hospital? I've noticed the worst ratios & circumstances for patients there on med/surg floors.
  9. 0
    Quote from Bluespruce
    I wonder if you worked for a VA hospital? I've noticed the worst ratios & circumstances for patients there on med/surg floors.
    Also, I have a question for you in re: to this situation being that I'm a new nurse. In general, should you chart that you've requested such & such because of your reasonable fear that pt could fall out of bed & injure him/herself? I wonder if charting that is ok & I wonder if it'd help your license. Of course, from the hospital's liability standpoint they may not like u to chart this kind of stuff. What are your thoughts on the matter? It seems one way you're looking after your own license & the other way you're just looking after the hospital's liability.
  10. 0
    Quote from Bluespruce
    Also, I have a question for you in re: to this situation being that I'm a new nurse. In general, should you chart that you've requested such & such because of your reasonable fear that pt could fall out of bed & injure him/herself? I wonder if charting that is ok & I wonder if it'd help your license. Of course, from the hospital's liability standpoint they may not like u to chart this kind of stuff. What are your thoughts on the matter? It seems one way you're looking after your own license & the other way you're just looking after the hospital's liability.

    The problem with charting "Nursing administration notified and refused to allow sitter" is that it just SCREAMS sue us. An incident report is where this information is normally directed. On the other hand. When you tell a doctor what's going on, in any situation, you can write..."Informed physician that patient continues to crawl out of bed. (give a brief run down of their vital signs) no new orders received" If it goes to court, the incident report will be on file for the case to reveal your attempt to get help from administration and the chart will show that you informed the doctor of the patient's unpredictable behavior. HOWEVER: when patients fall, nurses are blamed. That's just the way it is.
  11. 0
    Quote from Bluespruce
    I wonder if you worked for a VA hospital? I've noticed the worst ratios & circumstances for patients there on med/surg floors.
    Nope..work for a community hospital.
  12. 0
    Quote from Judee Smudee
    If they give you the lecture if a fall occurs it is on your head and not theirs. If State and Joint commission can mandate the lecture why can't they mandate patient ratios.
    Ratios don't make things perfect but they are SO much better than what you are going through.

    The patients described by justmanda seem like they should be in ICU (at a 1:2 ratio) or step-down (1:4) if they were here.

    If not for ratios and the support of my fellow CNA nurses i would be like you and retire. It took a lot of education and experience for me to learn what i know. I think my patients and colleagues benefit from me as I do from them. Still a few more years left, if my health holds up.

    I would either write why the assignments are unsafe for patients and get others who agree to sign it also. I would keep a copy and give the original to my manager and the medical director of the unit or hospital.

    If I really needed the job, felt the letter would cost me the job, and there is no other job available I would fill out an incident report EACH time. It may be every day. I might fill out two and make sure one gets to the hospital attorney. I would also call the doctor charting what I told the Doctor and a word for word quote of hte response. AND i would keep a journal with the staffing numbers (no HIPAA violations), what we did,dated and written after every shift. I've been told those hold up in court years later.
    The letter is beat, puts the responsibility for the fall or worse on the facility where it belongs.


    All the best to you. I've been there and it is just plain wrong to do this to patients and nurses. No wonder there is a shortage!
  13. 0
    Quote from justmanda
    HOWEVER: when patients fall, nurses are blamed. That's just the way it is.
    Whatever goes wrong the nurse is to blame. Managers will try to shift the blame to you. Doctors will try to shift the blame to you. Hospitals will try to shift the blame to you. Insurance companies will try to nail you to the wall.


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