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How the Nursing Shortage Affects Patients

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Nurses are our first line of defense in the hospital. If someone has an allergic reaction to medication, has sudden pain, or has problems breathing, they are on the phone with their physician STAT.  Currently, they are forced to work with a high patient to low RN ratio as well as poor working conditions. When this happens, patients are the ones who suffer. For instance, they get infections, bedsores, are readmitted due to getting sicker, are not adequately educated on how to care for their injury/illness, and don’t get the emotional support they need either.

In my case, I was fortunate enough to have excellent care from the nursing staff when I had my first ileostomy surgery due to Crohn’s. There was always time to have my questions answered, be reassured if I was upset, and they taught me how to care for my appliance. On the flip side, a few months ago I was hospitalized for cellulitis. The evening shift was cut down to three caregivers and one aide. I could overhear in the hallway how stressed and frustrated they were due to someone calling in and their aide was taken away to another floor. No extra assistance was given.  All I could do was pray that there wouldn’t be anything major occurring due to budget cuts that have been in place for a while.

I’ve had many operations over the years due to Crohn’s disease causing a narrowing in my small intestines which resulted in an obstruction. The medical caregivers who oversaw me post-op always made sure I had pain medication, the call button next to me, plus they checked in regularly to see that I was resting comfortably.

I read an online article today that stated a nursing union at a hospital in Upstate NY went on strike due to the need for improved working conditions. Their pleas for better patient care have been ignored for a long time by management. The CEO needs to realize that people who have serious illnesses are the ones affected by his decisions.

Those who have IBD, diabetes, heart problems, cancer, etc. often choose a particular facility because they feel they’ll get the best possible care. If that gets disrupted, problems ensue ranging from mistakes, accidents, or even suing the hospital by a family due to negligence of a loved one.

The RNs are fighting for proper patient management. Who’s fighting for them?

Getty image by insta_photos.

Originally published: October 16, 2021
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