Set a minimum patient-nurse ratio
Monday, May 17, 2004
A problem imposing on society today is that of shrinking hospitals, also known as the nursing shortage. This is a national issue that affects us all. With greater requirements and demands in health care partly due to people living longer, thus creating later-life illnesses and health problems, the demand for a greater number of nurses is exceedingly high.
Right now, there are an inadequate number of nurses on each floor of the hospital to take care of an overwhelming number of patients. The nurses work countless hours that are stressful and emotionally and physically draining. It has been found that this shortage plays a factor in one-fourth of patient injuries and deaths.
To try and reverse this problem, it has been suggested by the Institute of Medicine that nurses not work longer than 12 hours in a single day. The main hope of this intervention would be to cut down on the number of errors due to long work hours and fatigue. An alarming report, presented by the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, stated that the risk of dying after surgery rose by 7 percent with each additional patient exceeding the four patients to nurse allotment. Local labor unions in New Jersey, Washington and Oregon are fighting for new laws or contracts that set minimum limits to the nurse-patient ratio.
Unless hospital administrators dedicate their financial resources to hire more staff, elevate pay, and create a more positive and favorable workplace, this problem will continue to persist. I urge your readers to contact their public officials to support the proposed laws in helping to correct this alarming situation.