Target: Sue A. Tedford, Executive Director, Arkansas State Board of Nursing
Goal: Push for better nurse-to-patient ratios so that nurses are not over-exerted trying to care for too many patients.
In any given shift, a licensed practical nurse may be responsible for as many as 8 to 10 patients. This includes taking blood, administering medicines, attending to hygiene, and other problems the patient may have. For a registered nurse (RN), this workload is doubled. It isn’t uncommon for an RN to be responsible for an entire floor or wing of a hospital. The RN must keep track of patient shots and what medicines they are on, no small feat considering most patients are elderly or very sick.
To expect one person to maintain the care of 10 to 20 people is insane. Nurses are harried and stressed, primarily because they are understaffed. There are too few of them to maintain the quality of care patients deserve. It is hard to take care of someone else when you’re nearly collapsing from fatigue. It’s becoming all too common for nurses to administer the wrong medications or dose. The nurse is held at fault for this no matter how exhausted they are, how long they’ve been working, or how many patients they have. This isn’t fair to the nurse, and it’s definitely not fair to the patient who’s life is put at risk.
Studies show that lack of sleep and rest destroy concentration and retention of information, but nurses are expected to rise above this. One reason nurses are understaffed is because charges for care are bundled into the whole cost of hospitalization. Thus, hiring on more staff would increase the price of care. A solution to this was posed by a bill to have separate charges, much like one pays separately for anesthesia before going into surgery.
Statistics from the American Hospital Association show that patients spend much less time in hospitals now than in the past, but nurse shifts are increasing exponentially. This is because hospitals are hiring fewer nurses for more patients, who work longer shifts.
Nursing is one of the most populated fields, there’s no reason for nurse-to-patient ratio to be so imbalanced. Please push for regulations on hospital staffing and how funds for that staffing are billed.
Dear Director Tedford,
Every day, nurses are pushed and exhausted trying to keep up with the volume and complexity of patient care. As our technology advances and care becomes more involved, this becomes more dangerous for both the patient and the nurse. It’s unfair to expect nurses to work like robots without experiencing the negative side effects of fatigue and stress. It’s also unfair to the patients who suffer because their caretakers are overworked.
Please, consider how rapidly the nursing industry is growing. With the rise in number of nurses, there are plenty to choose from and hire on staff so that one person isn’t tending to 10 different people for 12 hours.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Alexraths