A preliminary study has just been completed by the Committee of Injured Nurses of Prince Edward Island. The study consisted of a cross section of nurses from various areas of work; such as emergency, recovery room, day surgery, intensive care, medical and surgical floors, nursery, palliative care, nursing homes, clinics and professors from the School of Nursing at the University of Prince Edward Island. The study included nurses from all three counties and approximately a hundred and sixty seven pages were returned. The recently collected data was analyzed under the direction of scientific researcher Dr. David Cairns.
The initial response from nurses was the first point of interest even prior to the results of the study as there seemed such a strong interest and need for further work on the subject of the workplace environment with the hopes of identifying risks and chances for policy to correct them and then guiding policy in providing a strong voice for nurses, guided by nurses. No numbers can properly capture the energy and desire to help the healthcare community that was encountered. The numbers and findings however are most interesting. Findings consist as follows and show clearly that the healthcare crisis which is expected to reach more then a hundred thousand job vacancies nation wide in the near future is being felt strongly today in our healthcare centers:
The majority of those involved (84%) felt that their workplace put them in an unexpected situation in being exposed to greater risk of emotional or physical damage, an over abundance of stress or chance of injury. When nurses which worked directly with the public were asked to rate the physical demands that are placed upon them do to their roles on a scale of one to ten the result was an average of 7.8 but more importantly a median of 10. This means that the average was lowered due to the responses of a few individuals as more then a quarter reported in the highest extreme (10) and the 10-8 range consisted of 75 % of those who responded. The measure of mental strain however was that much more pronounced as there was an average of 9 out of ten and approximately half of those responding doing so at the median of 10/10, a workload slightly lower it seemed in the supervisory staff. Approx 90% of those who were involved stressed the need for more staff and care for those which were in the labor force now to prevent premature retirement or a suffering in the quality of care provided. Concerns were for the most part focused on the staffing needs but in more then just the number of nurses as orderlies and ward clerks were also of key importance so allowing the trained and experienced nursing staff to apply their skills to where they can do the most good and their labors not be wasted.
Thankfully, though, there was a reasonable number who felt that they had appropriate time off between working shifts to mentally and physically recover at 51% in the hands on staff and a related 50% in the supervisory staff. It does speak of needed improvement to assist in the maintaining a balance between family and work life given the stresses of the workplace but somewhat lower then expected given other extreme values such as in the case of what was available in support systems as 90% of nurses involved didnít feel that there were appropriate support systems for them to make use of. So while the staff that we have seem able to work the hours they do there is a clear demand as was made clear by P.E.I.ís healthcare community directly for new or recovered staff to be added to their numbers so that the quality of our healthcare system and the safety of those men and woman who strive day and night to maintain it are not jeopardized. A suggested ratio was often offered forward with an average of a staff patient ratio of 1/3.5-4.
We havenít been able to maintain anything which could be considered a reasonable level of support for either staff or the patience. It is clear in the number of nurses who were concerned with a shortage of staff to see to the treatments, education and support needs that the quality of care suffers as 91% of hands on staff and 75% of supervisors felt that beyond their own well-being, that the care provided suffers.
Statements from nurses:
"It is often expressed by the administration that they understand how overworked nurses are. What baffles me is why nurses are continuously given more and more workÖ.. I entered nursing to be a nurse and after I go home feeling that I didnít have enough time to give the type of care my patients deserve."
"Most assessment tools for nurse/patient ratio do not account for more than task Ė orientated approach (mental, emotional, spiritual needs not met) .Stressful to always be left feeling that client needs are not met."
"Physical care can be heavy and with only one RN and one LPN to staff the unit, staff is often exhausted mentally and physically at the end of the shift with many feeling inadequate in the quality of care that they were able to give that day."
"Not having 12-16 emergency room admissions per day-these people need better beds and a place to stay out of the view of the public."
"High risk factors ,physical injury,needlesticks, infections e.g. VRE, MSRA, Hep C,B,HIV."
"require better service and respect from Workers Compensation Board."
"Always the causes and roots of the problems confronting registered nurses in the workplace have not been addressed so other nurses continue to be injured."
"There never seems to be action taken on stated concerns."
"We work with high risk situations frequently."