Saturday, April 6, 2013

Cooked, but not Done

Stick a fork in me, I'm Cooked, I'm done!
How many times have you thought that at the end of a shift?
It's not just nurses, it's ALL health care workers.
I've included an email I received from Katherine Kany, the assistant director of AFT Healthcare division, on just this issue.
What can we do about it?
Connecticut has a law that says every hospital must have a safe staffing committee, that this committee must be at least 50% bedside RNs, and that this committee must report to the state when requested as to the staff to patient ratio. We have been pushing a bill in Hartford that would make this reporting a regular occurrence, not only when requested, and would publish the results on a public website.  Many of you have written testimony in favor of this.  The Connecticut Hospital Association is opposing this bill and it looks like they may win this round, but this does not mean defeat.  We need to continue to write and speak to legislators and propose it again next year.  In addition, we are working to ensure that the hospital is in fact complying with the current law by having real meetings and including real nurses.  I also hope that my recent appointment to the Department of Public Health quality of care advisory committee can help.
I want to urge you to visit a new AFT CT web site,, and share your stories.
Yes, it's a battle.
There are those who want to continue to short staff to save a buck, hoping that it doesn't hurt patients or staff, in pursuit of larger profits. 
But we are many, and together we can ensure our patients safety and
ours, and we know there are better ways to save, that don't put people at risk.
We may be cooked, but we're not done.
What you have always known, now captured and broadcast by the American Organization of Nurse Executives. Highlighting below is from me (Katherine Kany).

Survey: Nurse understaffing, fatigue threatens patient safety

March 21, 2013 | By Julie Bird
Fatigue leaves a majority of nurses concerned about their ability to perform safely, with two-thirds of nurses reporting they had nearly made a mistake at work because of fatigue and more than a quarter saying they had made a fatigue-related error, according to a survey commissioned by Kronos Incorporated.
The "Nurse Staffing Strategy,"  released this week at the American Organization of Nurse Executives conference in Denver, found nurse fatigue also can negatively affect operational costs, as well as patient and employee satisfaction, according to the research announcement.
Among the findings:
·         39 percent of respondents found current staffing levels inadequate, while 38 percent found them unsatisfactory
·         57 percent said workloads were not distributed evenly in the previous year, with 54 percent saying they had an excessive workload
·         77 percent said their organization had 12-hour nursing shifts
·         96 percent reported feeling tired at the beginning of their shift, and 92 percent while driving home after work
·         63 percent said vacancies affected scheduling and overtime staffing "more often than anticipated"
·         56 percent said their hospitals disregard required rest periods, and 65 percent said their hospitals do not have policies regarding cumulative days of extended shifts
Separate research recently published in JAMA Pediatrics found that nurse understaffing in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) leads to higher infection rates among very low-birth-weight babies.
Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers in Michigan are joining a nurses' union in calling for a state law requiring hospitals to maintain lower nurse-to-patient ratios so they are adequately staffed without mandatory overtime, Michigan Radio reported.
Sixteen states have rules regarding staff-to-patient ratios, but California is the only  state setting minimum hospital staffing levels, according to the report.
"I don't think people realize that when your nurse is handling far too many patients, or working a double-shift or been mandated to stay over, it's probably because the hospital wants it that way," Scott Nesbit, R.N., told Michigan Radio.
The Michigan Health and Hospitals Association opposes the legislation, according to the report.
The nurse staffing survey was conducted by HealthLeaders Media.
To learn more:
- read the survey findings
- here's the Michigan Radio report
Katherine Kany, MSN, BS, RN
Assistant Director | AFT Healthcare