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The latest American Nurses Association (ANA) staffing survey of its membership shows increasing concern among the nurses that patient care is suffering due to declining working conditions. According to ANA president Mary Foley, MS, RN, three-quarters of the 7,300 respondents to the survey feel the quality of nursing care at the facility in which they work has declined over the past two years.
More than half contend that the time they have available for patient care has decreased, and more than 40% of nurses surveyed said they would not feel comfortable having a family member or someone close to them cared for in the facility in which they work. Other findings include:
There is ample evidence that patients have better outcomes in hospitals with higher staffing levels and higher RN ratios in the staffing mix, Foley says, noting that length of stay, pneumonia, post-operative infections, pressure ulcers, and urinary tract infections "are markedly decreased with higher levels of RN involvement."
Foley and the ANA are working to improve the situation by supporting legislation that would protect whistle-blowers and eliminate or severely curtail the use of mandatory overtime. But she would also like to see facilities take note of trends by looking at "nursing-sensitive" quality data.
"Nurses want to know that health care facilities will be made publicly accountable for the quality — not just the cost — of care delivered to patients, and for the staffing levels used to deliver that care. They want to see a mandate that incorporates nursing research, nursing work force data, and other findings into agencies’ reports."