If there is one thing that nurses agree on, it is that staffing ratios are deplorable. When a nurse goes into work, they shouldn’t have to face ratios over five to one.
Unfortunately, a ratio of five to one would be welcome by many nurses. Some shifts, especially night shift, can have up to eight to ten patients for their 12 hours.
The problem is even worse in long term care and rehabilitation hospitals. These nurses could have 40 or more.
It may seem like there is nothing nurses can do about it, but some are fighting for change. In fact, they are taking their concerns all the way to Washington.
The Staffing Problem
Ratios are one of the biggest problems in nursing. Sometimes the problem is because of the lack of nurses in the area.
However, some ratio problems are based on financial decisions on the part of the facility. They feel that the nurses should be able to handle the numbers that they set.
Unfortunately, the ratios are set by the employer, and there is no legislation in place to force a facility to set them according to safe standards. The facility can set them for any ratio, and often the decision is motivated by money.
Current Legislation about Safer Staffing
Not many nurses are aware of this, but there are two bills going through the federal legislature about safe staffing. One bill is S. 864 (National Nursing Shortage Reform and Patient Advocacy Act).
This bill is in the senate and looks to improve the staffing ratios in facilities by assisting with the shortage of nursing. Unfortunately, many of the problems with nursing don’t stem from a shortage but from nurse burnout.
The other bill is H.R. 1602 (Nurse Staffing Standards for Patient Safety and Quality Care Act), and this one is currently in the House. Like the previous bill, it seeks to improve the ratios of nurses to patients in long term and acute care facilities.
Many nurses don’t feel these bills go far enough in addressing the ratio issue. However, many nursing advocacy groups have supported these bills and have collectively organized a rally in support of them.
Details of the Rally
The rally will be held on Thursday, May 12, 2016 in Washington, D.C. It is sponsored by a wide range of groups, including Nurses for National Patient Ratios, A Voice for Nurses Now, and Show Me Your Stethoscope (SMYS).
In addition, there will be speakers addressing the assembled nurses about the need for safe patient ratios. Andrew Lopez, RN, CEO of NurseFriendly will present on the topic of ratio reform.
Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH, executive director of The Truth About Nursing, will also speak about safe nursing ratios, and Janie Garner, RN, founder and executive director of SMYS, will speak on the need for legislation in ratio reform.
A large crowd is expected with media coverage, as well. Nurses are encouraged to wear stethoscopes and scrubs to show their support for the rally. More information on this historic event can be found at constantcontact.com and at smysofficial.com.