Wednesday, October 6, 1999
Healthcare and patient's rights at risk

Recently, visiting a western state where I had worked as a registered nurse in a general hospital for many years, I spoke with colleagues who are still working mostly in the intensive care units and post surgical areas.

There was a unison complaint the professional nurse is being stretched too thinly in the acute hospital setting. Nurses are leaving the profession as fast as they can because of their workload. Nurses cannot cope with the number of patients they are currently expected to care for, and the responsibilities that go with it. Patients' care is in jeopardy.

In at least two cases this last year, one in my old hospital, and one here in Atlanta, patients were returned to their room from the recovery room. Both patients bled to death. The nurses had been working so hard with their other acutely ill patients they did not have the time to check the fresh post operative cases often enough. Occasionally patients bleed after they are returned to their rooms, the nurses recognize it, notify the doctors and the condition corrected. Both nurses were fired from their jobs for negligence.

This last spring in one of our local hospitals, a friend, following a fairly simple surgical procedure nearly bled to death. The spouse, visiting the room, had the presence of mind to alarm the hospital staff and the patient was sent to the critical unit to stop the bleeding.

Patients deserve better care. They are paying too much money today for medical care. If hospitals want to call the operation a business, then the customers deserve better service. With the present nurse/patient ratio, it is impossible for nurses to give adequate service! We need adequate staffing, simply, more registered nurses per patients. In aviation, the FAA demands a minimum staffing of flight attendants for safety. How about the same for nurses for patient safety?

Don't wait until something critical happens to your loved one! Next time the excuse is “Nurse Negligence” think twice.

Marie Barr
R.N., M.A., B.S.

Peachtree City resident

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