Is Staffing a Patient’s Issue?

super_nurse[1]I once worked at a hospital where I had 8 patients.  Some of the other nurses refused to take more than 7 patients and that was how me and another nurse ended up with 8 patients.  One nurse had called out.  As a nurse, I knew that that day I was going to be very busy.  One of my patient’s that day asked me how many patients I had.  I guess the patient could see how busy I was.  I couldn’t answer that patient because the manager of the floor had told me not to tell the patients that we were short staffed.  The manager said that it was not the patient’s business that we were short staffed.  I had another patient ask me why it was taking me so long to get to their room.  The patient had just wanted to ask me a question but another patient had wanted pain medication so I had to go to the other patient’s room first.  It did take me about 20 minutes to get to the first patient’s room.  I wanted to tell the patient that I had 7 other patients but I didn’t.  I disagreed with that.  I feel like most patients would be more understanding if they knew that the hospital was short staffed.  I feel like the hospital scores wouldn’t be so low if we let the patients know.  If I knew that my nurse had 7 other patients then I would be more understanding if it did take the nurse longer to get to my request.  I don’t believe in always telling the patient when the hospital is short staffed but if the patient asks then I believe the patient has the right to know.  Even if a nurse calls out, I still have to help the CNA.  I still have to help turn the 300 pound patient, take a patient to the bathroom, or clean up an incontinent patient.  Sometimes it can take 10 to 15 minutes to do a dressing change depending on how big the wound is.  The staff as a whole has to come together and help each other out when the hospital is short staffed.  I just feel like if I want my patient to be honest with me then I need to be honest with the patient.  For example, I want the patient to tell me if they use illegal drugs or abuse alcohol.  That could effect the plan of the patient’s treatment.  Some patient’s don’t tell the truth because they feel like they are going to be judged.  Most hospitals are short staffed.  There is a nursing shortage going on.  To be honest I don’t see myself doing bedside nursing for the rest of my life.  Furthermore adding to the nursing shortage.  The Unites States needs more nursing schools and more nursing teachers.  Nursing schools need more funding.  The country is going to suffer if the nursing shortage gets worse.  But what do I know, I’m just a nurse on the front lines.  I say that staffing is a patient issue if the patient asks.

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