Nurse-patient ratios and overtime pay

  1. Hi all,
    After having to work an eveing shift on a busy med-surg unit with a patient load of 7, I could not help but wonder why there are no limits on the amount of patients one nurse should be allowed to care for. At least three of my seven patients required a great deal of care, not to mention my second-day postop patient who was confused from the narcotics she recieved for pain. On top of all of this, our unit manager wants all nurses out on time and lectures us if we acquire even one hour of overtime. I then came onto this site and read about the new ratios about to be activated in CA. Why are there no national regulations on nurse-patient ratios ? I just can't understand why our nation's leaders as well as insurance companies are so willing to put patients at risk to save a buck? Obviously, better ratios can lead to higher quality care and therefore may decrease hospitilizations and/or days spent in the hospital. Then, on top of this, our overtime pay is now being threatened !!! Although I did not come into nursing for the money, I still must support myself with this career. Having said this, what other profession is consistently underpaid for the type of work required, being threatened of losing overtime pay, and forced to work in dangerous situations???Why are nurses treated so badly? I have been an LPN for four years and have recently graduated from RN school in May, so I can still be considered a newbie. However, I don't know how I'll be able to work in this field for the rest of my life. I truly love nursing and caring for patients, but the disrespect this profession recieves angers me to no end ! Does anyone know how I can get involved in the political aspect of nursing to help fight for the rights of my fellow nurses? Where can I even start? Sorry this is so long, but it is a subject I feel very strongly about. Thanks for any input .
  2. Visit Ahhphoey profile page

    About Ahhphoey, ADN, BSN, MSN, CNS

    Joined: Apr '02; Posts: 384; Likes: 226
    RN; from US
    Specialty: 16 year(s) of experience in ICU, M/S,Nurse Supervisor, CNS


  3. by   pickledpepperRN
    A good place to start would be your state nurses association or other all RN union.
    Some states have very active and excellent programs.
  4. by   -jt
    <Why are there no national regulations on nurse-patient ratios>

    Because the hospital associations & their lobbyists in DC & the state capitols are fighting against the safe staffing bills that nurses have gotten sponsored into the legislatures. So fight back. Look up the safe staffing bills in your state (the governmental affairs page of your state nurses assoc website should have it there), check out the national bills (posted on the governmental affairs page of the American Nurses Assoc website) and then contact your elected officials, give them the bill numbers & demand their support. You can become more involved by joining your state nurses assoc and working on their legislative committees.
    Last edit by -jt on Jul 6, '03
  5. by   Ahhphoey
    Thanks for the information. I will look into these contacts.
  6. by   Gldngrl
    I had recently written my state nurses association to request support for safe staffing legislation. The response I received was in part that the lobbyist did not recommend supporting any staffing legislation and the state nurses association, "has not sponsored staffing legislation in the past because these bills usually involve ratios, and often ratios meant to be the minimum are use as a maximum." My state is completely devoid of nursing unions and is controlled by big business...very frustrating.