Nurse overload equals mistakes

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You know you're a nurse when ...
Did you hear the one about the seasoned detective who finds a body in a field? Surrounded by young detectives, he immediately announces, “I can tell you two things for sure about this person, and that is: She was a nurse and worked in long term care!”

Stunned, the newbie detectives ask, “How on earth can you tell that?”

“Easy,” says the older detective. “Her stomach is empty, her bladder is full and her butt is chewed out!”

OK, so the August CDC Safe Healthcare Blog stated that a new study linked nurse workload/burnout to hospital infections. Basically, the blog highlighted that the study of Pennsylvania hospitals (published in the American Journal of Infection Control) found that increasing a nurse's workload by just one patient was associated with increases in catheter-associated urinary tract infections and surgical site infections.

Now, that's in hospitals. I have nurse friends who say they wouldn't work in long-term care because of the higher patient-to-nurse ratios. And we all know that nursing facilities are now chronic care hospitals with very frail patients with multiple co-morbid conditions, many functional issues, declining cognitive issues, and needing assistance in a minimum of three ADLs.

What can happen if we increase the LTC nurses workload by one more patient? Let's think about that:

For you, the nurse, well, you can now go to the bathroom only on Tuesdays and Thursdays; you have to grab some of that Ensure and gulp it down during the med-pass because that's all the nourishment you're gonna' get during your shift; you're still charting six hours after your shift ended and the administrator is yelling at you for using overtime to do your work; AND you broke the time/space continuum racing down one end of the hall to flush a tube feeding and then rush to the other side of the hall in that exact same second to give a meal bolus of insulin while finishing wound rounds and treatments, at the same time keeping wandering Mr. Jones out of the second-floor atrium and urinating in the potted plants, while simultaneously taking the call from Dr. Smith who just can't understand why you made him wait 30 whole seconds before answering his call, filling out refill orders for medications and trying not to get snippy when dietary complains that the “nurses” never help pass out trays.

KABOOM!

Oh, I'm sorry. I couldn't hear you over the explosion of the poor LTC nurse's head who just thought about the addition of one more patient!

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, a 2012 APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse who is also the director of clinical affairs for the American Medical Directors Association. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. She has not starred in her own national television series — yet. 

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The Real Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, a 2012 APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.

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