NJ Nurse's Demand Hospital Accountability on Ratio Regulations to Protect Quality Patient Care in Under-Staffed Hospitals

by Nicole Miceli | July 15, 2014

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Nicole Miceli

NJ Nurse’s Demand Hospital Accountability on Ratio Regulations to Protect Quality Patient Care in Under-Staffed Hospitals As a nursing student in an accelerated program I have been introduced to the world of nursing in many different settings at a quick pace. As I shadow nurses with years of experience in the field I try and make myself as useful as possible. Often times I find myself eagerly watching waiting for moments where I am offered an opportunity to practice one of the many new skills we have learned in class and simulation lab. While I cannot offer the same level of care as a registered nurse just yet, throughout the program I have learned to ask myself what can I offer as a student? Having only one or two patients and not being able to administer medications alone leaves a lot of time open for assessing the patient and really getting to know them. I enjoy finding other ways in which to help them, I make them feel heard, I make them comfortable, I advocate for their needs, and really try and understand who they are during our time together. I use to see myself as simply a student hoping to learn something new but after many afternoons speaking with patients I realized the connection one could make with people by simply asking; how are you doing and how can I help you? It’s an important lesson to learn how to interact with patients; I found that if you genuinely want to help most people are willing to put their trust in you. Knowing that feeling of responsibility to a patient who trusts me makes me wonder how I will give my patients the same level of care and time once I graduate and receive a much larger work load. As I watch the nurses handle all of the patients on the floor with just as much care as they would one patient, I wonder if I will ever master that type of time management. Intrigued by how today’s understaffed hospitals still manage to provide their best level of care I researched articles about time management and patient care to see what local nurses have to say on the subject. A recent article in The Record written by Barbra Williams, voices the opinion of The Health Professionals and Allied Employees Union (HPAE), which are the largest nurse and healthcare union in the state of NJ. HPAE performed a survey in which five hundred NJ state registered nurses were interviewed over the phone. Of the five hundred interviewed, 44% admitted to not being able to provide proper care to a patient on at least one occasion due to understaffing. After receiving these results the union is requesting that the State Department of Health more strictly enforce standards for hospital accountability and quality. The union also addresses hospitals that were recently sold to for-profit companies or who have merged have even more serious understaffing issues than others. HPAE calls NJ staffing guidelines out of date and inadequate. HPAE continued surveying nurses in the hospital, findings showed 18% of nurses witnessed a patient being hurt due to medical error or delayed care. 12% said patients conditions worsened due to understaffing and in hospitals sold for-profit a whopping 61% could not provide adequate care due to understaffing issues. The hospital argues that these surveys only reflect the nursing perspective. When it comes to quality of patient care I believe the nurses perspective should be one of the most valued and respected considering nurses spend the most face-to-face time providing patient care on a day-to-day basis. NJ State Department of Health will continue to monitor surveys and inspection oversight program to ensure the quality of care in NJ hospitals is maintained. Many of my experiences in various NJ hospitals this semester have proven that state standards do in fact adhere to required nurse to patient ratios in specific settings such as the ICU. Other encounters in which nurses were understaffed working in less than desirable conditions, I could still admire their ability to work together and maintain positive attitudes. Regardless of the current state laws I learned the most from watching nurses provide quality patient care despite understaffing conditions. Article: Survey: Nurse understaffing at N.J. hospitals caused inadequate patient care; stronger laws needed JANUARY 29, 2014, 4:37 PM BY BARBARA WILLIAMS STAFF WRITER THE RECORD http://www.northjersey.com/news/survey-nurse-understaffing-at-n-j-hospitals-caused-inadequate-patient-care-stronger-laws-needed-1.698969
Posted on: July 15, 2014, 9:49 pm


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