Allyson Yochum Mr. Short English 11 30 November 2017 Why Nurse are Overworked and Understaffed”There are 3.9 million registered and licensed practicing nurses in the United States. Not all of them, however, are happy in their work. A 2014 survey of more than 33,300 nurses found that they were stressed, overworked, underappreciated, and underutilized” (Fischer). This doesn’t just affect the nurses, it affects the care their patients receive as well. Registered nurses are being inadequately staffed and overworked, making nurses constantly exhausted and increasing harmful events occurring in hospitals throughout the US, which includes medication errors, unnecessary deaths, patient falls, and hospital-acquired infections. Nurses see too many patients in order for them to do their job effectively.
According to the Academy of Medical Nurses in California, there is a minimum of 1 RN: 6 patient ratio. That means nurses are expected to take care of six patients at one time, communicate with the doctor about the proper treatment is for each patient, communicate with the patient, fill out charts, and supervise all their aides for each of the 6 patients. Each unit in hospitals requires a different number of the nurse to patient ratios. The ratio depends on how much care the patient needs which depends on the condition of the patient.
One example of a unit that has different ratios is the ICU. It can get understaffed depending on how many patients they receive. Their ratio is 1 RN to 3 patients. When the nurses working in the ICU receives three patients they need to give a lot of care to each patient due to their condition. They must divide up the time spent with each patient and the care they receive. Because of this nurses, workload and patient ratios are starting to affect their own health.
According to the Department for Professional Employees, they found increasing their risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs—back, neck, and shoulder injuries), hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and depression of nursing working long hours and with inadequate staffing affects nurses’ health. Not only are understaffing nurses and overworking them are affecting their patients but their own health yet most hospitals haven’t done anything. “According to DPE researchers have found a clear trend between frequent overtime work and incidents of heart disease, with workers reporting three to four hours of overtime per day being 1.
6 times more likely to have cardiovascular health disorders, in a 2010 study” (safe-staffing). We should be taking care of the people taking care of us by not making them work so much because of the increased risk of developing heart disease, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and depression. In fact, some nurses are having to stay home from work due to the health problems their workload is causing.Nurses are being overworked with their patient loads and shifts so they are not getting enough sleep which is affecting their ability to effectively do their job and affecting their health and their patients. “Several studies have established impaired sleep is a common problem among nurses. Overworked, fatigued and stressed nurses are at a higher risk of making mistakes that threaten patient safety as well as their own health” (Hasson). Impaired or distributed sleep has been associated with cognitive problems, mood alterations, reduced job performance, reduced motivation, and increased safety risks. A study conducted by Healthline found that 64% of nurses said that they rarely get seven to eight hours of sleep per night.
Another 31% said they get enough sleep just two to three nights a week, and despite being in the health industry, 77% of nurses said they regularly do not eat well. Studies and surveys are proving this fact, nurses who are being overworked are affecting patient care. More cases of nurses making mistakes due to impaired sleep, exhaustion and being overworked. The Nurses health affect the workload, patient ratios, and how many shifts they have to work.
Due to health problems caused by understaffing nurses, some healthcare professionals are having to take time off of work to improve their health so they can do their jobs. DPE researchers also found that there were 65,050 nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses that required all healthcare and technical occupations to take off several days away from work. When that occurs, nurses are having to cover more shifts and possibly even work longer ones. This cycle is going to keep continuing until there are barely any nurses left. Due to this, more nurses are starting to making mistakes, some are minor little mistakes which are bound to happen, and some mistakes can cause complications leading to the patient’s death.
Although that is very rare, it still happens. For example, due to overworked and unstaffed hospitals, in Canada, a premature baby was dropped by an exhausted nurse who had already worked one shift that day. She was on her second shift, which resulted in the fracture of his skull. These types of cases are becoming more common not just in Canada but also across the Nation, more patients are not getting the adequate care they need and deserve due to the lack of understaffed nurses. Another type of error nurses have been making is medication errors.
According to Bradley University, in the last year, more than 46% of nurses have committed a medication error. That means in the last year almost half of all the nurses in the U.S. have made some kind of medication error.
Some of these medication errors could have lead to unnecessary patients deaths, or other symptoms due to the medicine they were given. Another kind of error nurses has been making causes hospital-acquired infections.Hospital-acquired infections are increasing due to the understaffing of nurses.
The American Journal of Infection Control researchers examined nurse burnouts and emotional exhaustion and found that Pennsylvania alone could prevent 4,160 infections. If hospitals reduced nurse burnout from 30% to 10%. Imagine if not just Pennsylvania reduced nurse burnout from 30% to 10%, how would it look throughout all the state? By reducing nurses burnout in every state it would prevent around 200,000 hospitals acquired infections.
Hospital-acquired infections are one of the many problems caused by the understaffing of nurses, but it’s not the worst problem. Hospital-acquired infections are not the only problem that is increasing due to understaffing of nurses.Mortality rates are increasing due to the understaffing and overworking of nurses. Bradley University did a study, they found that Intensive Care Unit patients were cared for by hospitals with below-target Registered Nurses staffing levels had a 2% to 7% increase in mortality than hospitals with on target RN staffing levels. That’s unacceptable the mortality rate in a hospital should not increase due to understaffing of nurses.
According to an article written by health leaders, states when a hospital has a greater patient turnover and when it fails to meet its own nurse staffing targets by at least eight hours inpatient mortality goes up significantly, many health professionals not just nurses are strongly suggesting hospitals measure and adjust nurse staffing to patient needs. Mortality is the worst problem of understaffing of nurses and should not be taken lightly. Hospitals need to do a better job of adjusting nurse staffing to patient’s needs. Not only are the patients affected by understaffing and overworked nurses but many nurses who are overworked and stressed also are starting to have poor health or health conditions which is causing the nursing shorting. Some people disagree with nurses being overworked and understaffed.While there is lots of research and studies proving nurses are being overworked there are people who don’t believe that. Their argument is, being overworked and unstaffed is a part of working in the medical. They also argue that in many growing fields of work, such as construction, retail salesperson, home health aides, office clerks, food preparation, and serving workers including fast foods, are also being overworked due to the lack of employees and fast-growing fields of work.
So it is no different with nurses then it is for the other fast-growing fields of work. We should not be worried about nurses. That’s not the only argument they have against nurses.
Another argument is, most nurses are lazy and get paid for doing nothing, some just stand around talking, gossiping, and eating instead of taking care of their patient. They also believe most nurses don’t even try to give the most basic care their patients, such as giving medications at the right time or the right amount. Some of these people who believe nurses are lazy overpaid and don’t care hasn’t experienced this either first hand or with a relative, where the nurses who took care of them did not give their patients the care they deserve. That is a good point, but those other fields of work don’t involve taking care of people. Nursing is the main source of care a patient receives. Some tasks nurses are expected to accomplish include communicating with patients and doctors, caring for patients, administering medicine and supervising nurses’ aides.
So how are nurses expected to accomplish all those tasks especially taking care of their patients adequately and being overworked due to understaffing? Being in the medical field is one of the most critical jobs, you have to do your best at all times for the patient to receive the proper care they deserve. So how can we expect nurses to do their best when they are being overworked and understaffed. The people who believe that nurses are lazy should realize that there is always a possibility that the nurse they get can either be very good at their job and care very well for each patient or not that good at their job. By saying nurses are lazy they are referring to all nurses as lazy which is very incorrect each nurse is different.
This is an opinion and has no evidence to support their opinion. No research or evidence can determine whether or not most nurses are lazy because one person’s opinion of laziness is different from everyone else’s. Hospital-acquired infections, patient falls, unnecessary deaths, and medication errors are occurring in hospitals throughout the nation due to Registered nurses being inadequately staffed and overworked, which is harming the patients and nurses health. Nurses to patients ratio are higher than what they should be causing nursing to work harder. They are also not getting enough sleep due to change of shift times, they can switch from a morning then to a night shift.
Nurses are being more at risk to develop certain health conditions and if any nurses end up getting some of this conditions and take time off then the other nurses have to pick up their shifts or work longer. In order to prevent patients from receiving inadequate care and nurses from getting serious health conditions there needs to be an effective ratio for nurses to patients to ensure that nurses are not getting overworked and hospitals are not understaffed. Works CitedFischer, Kristen. “Nurses: Overworked and Understaffed on the Front Lines.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 27 Sept. 2016, www.
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