Report: Nursing Shortage Growing Deadlier for Patients - MedCity News

More than 90 percent of nurses in the nation’s 10th most populous state believe staffing shortages negatively affect the quality of care they can provide, according to report recently released by the Michigan Nurses Association.

The association interviewed 400 nurses in January. They said the decline in the quality of care had a serious and sometimes fatal impact on patient safety – the percentage of participants who knew of a patient death caused by nurses being assigned too many patients had almost doubled in recent years. seven years. It has grown from 22% in 2016 to 42% in 2023.

About one-third of registered nurses in Michigan do not work in the field of nursing. Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs filings show there are 154,758 nurses with active licenses in the state, but records from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that only 102,480 work as nurses.

Because of this, more than 70% of nurses working in direct patient care said they often assign an unsafe patient load. Almost half said it happened during half or more of their shifts, and a quarter said it happened during almost every shift.

The percentage of nurses who say their patient load is almost always unsafe has more than tripled in recent years, from just 7% in 2016.

Most participants felt that the staffing crisis had little to do with a shortage of qualified nurses. About 80 percent of participants blamed the predicament on the failure of Michigan hospitals to improve working conditions and retain nurses.

The majority of nurses said that unsafe patient load was the biggest obstacle preventing them from providing quality care. Poor quality of care leads to negative outcomes for patients, one of which is death. More than four in 10 nurses in Michigan know of a death caused by unsafe patient handling, and 68 percent of participants know of a case where a patient contracted an infection or had other complications.

Medication errors are another negative result of the nursing shortage. Three-quarters of nurses said they knew of a missed medication, wrong medication or wrong dose given to a patient due to excessive patient workloads. Additionally, almost 90% of nurses said they lacked the time needed to educate patients and provide adequate information about discharge planning.

Unless hospitals take serious and immediate action to address the staffing crisis, it will only get worse, according to the report. Less than half of nurses working in direct patient care said they plan to stay in their current position in the next two years.

Participants proposed two measures to address the alarming rates of nurses leaving the health care workforce.

More than 90 percent of nurses support proposals to pass a law in Michigan called the Safe Patient Care Act, which would limit the number of patients a nurse can be assigned to. Most nurses said that this would lead to a significant improvement in the quality of care.

They also said that fixed nurse-to-patient ratios can lead to better staff recruitment and retention. Three-quarters of nurses who work directly in patient care said they would be more likely to stay in their position if the legislation was signed into law, and about 40 percent of nurses who left their jobs said, that they are more likely to return.

Nurses of Michigan also recommended that hospitals eliminate mandatory overtime and offer retention pay.

Photo: gpointstudio, Getty Images

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