Studies have shown that it is more financially feasible to hire more nurses so that we have adequate staffing levels vs. risking the liability of NOT having enough staff and causing problems; yet, nurses all over the place are understaffed and overworked. I work on a progressive care unit where the ratio is supposed to be 1:4. We do have some very stable patients that are just there for observation and are prepping to go to for a stress or a cath the next day....but we also have some pretty unstable patients. We get patients with drips, some we titrate. Regardless, these patients need more monitoring which is why they are admitted to our floor. But because of staffing and the hospital budget, we're starting to take 5-6 patients each.
But it's not just our floor. It's the whole hospital. Med-surg ratios are typically 1:6 but now they are finding themselves taking up to 8 or 9 patients...ICU nurses will be taking 3 patients instead of the 1:2, sometimes all three of those patients are on vents!
And again, the shortage comes from the lack of staff! And instead of hiring new nurses, they start floating us all over. I got floated to postpartum a couple of weeks ago and I am a PCU nurse!!! I was doing OB-GYN assessments. I haven't stepped foot on that type of unit since my OB-GYN rotation in nursing school which was like 3-4 years ago. The nurses I was working with that night were very helpful but still. They are trying to make up for short-comings by floating staff elsewhere, but in turn that either makes our unit short-staffed or we get nurses who cannot work with certain medications (we get a lot of med-surg RNs floated to my floor and they're not supposed to push meds like hydralazine, labetalol, metoprolol or work with drips like amio, dopamine, NTG, etc...)