Are Registered Nurses Across America Under Appreciated and Pushed to Their Limits?

A surge in demand and increased safety risks for nurses during the pandemic accelerated those trends.

Gurley (September 12, 2022) reported that approximately 15,000 nurses decided to strike in Minnesota earlier this week.  This represented the largest nursing strike in the history of the United States. 

Unfortunately, nurses have increasingly been asked to take on more patients for bedside care to make up for labor shortages. The high turnover has created gaps in patient care. 

For years, hospitals in the United States have faced understaffing problems, and the pandemic did not help. Research (Gurley, September 12, 2022) shows that patients are more likely to die because of preventable reasons when healthcare providers are overworked.

A surge in demand and increased safety risks for nurses during the pandemic accelerated those trends. The number of healthcare workers in the United States has still not recovered to its pre-pandemic levels, down 37,000 compared with February 2020. 

Gurley also mentions that the demand for healthcare services increased during the pandemic with the loss of healthcare workers pre-pandemic. There is a new backlog of people who delayed care now seeking medical attention and need it very much now. 

This summer, a Covid-19 wave swept across the United States hitting New York and Florida in a way that created the worst nursing shortages in decades. In the same week, Putka (September 13, 2022) released their data revealing that in the 3 months from April to June, an equivalent of 5,217 assaults occurred at the 483 facilities. 

Nurses faced the highest number of assaults in psychiatric units and emergency departments. While patients were most likely to attack nurses, attacks were also initiated by family members, co-workers, visitors, and intruders, and most attackers were men. 

Violence against healthcare workers has long concerned nurse groups and advocates. Still, research suggests that what was already a dangerous pattern may be getting worse. According to a 2021 American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations report on worker safety, rates of workplace violence in healthcare and social assistance settings have almost doubled since 2010. Business Wire. (September 8, 2022) violence toward nurses has reached an alarming rate, nearing, if not already, an epidemic. 

An assault is any encounter involving forcible, unwanted physical or sexual contact, regardless of who carries out the assault and whether there is intent to harm. It should be noted that accidental contact is not considered an assault. 

Nurses have gone on strike for better wages, working conditions, and safety will affect healthcare, especially for black and brown people in the occupations and those relying on medical care. Zippia (2022) states, “the most common ethnicity of registered nurses is White (69.1%), followed by Black or African American (11.5%) and Hispanic or Latino (8.6%).” 

Health care is undergoing significant changes. The effects of the shift will definitely be felt for years to come. The Narrative Matters!

References:

Business Wire. (September 8, 2022). On Average, Two Nurses Are Assaulted Every Hour, New Press Ganey Analysis Finds. On Average, Two Nurses Are Assaulted Every Hour, New Press Ganey Analysis Finds | Business Wire

Gurley, L.K. (September 12, 2022). Largest private-sector nurses strike in U.S. history begins in Minnesota. Minnesota faces largest private sector nurses strike in U.S. history – The Washington Post

Press Gainey. (2022). National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators® (NDNQI®)NDNQI Nursing Quality Indicators Database | Press Ganey

Putka, S. (September 13, 2022). Violence Against Nurses Worse Than Ever, Analysis Finds. Violence Against Nurses Worse Than Ever, Analysis Finds | MedPage Today

Zippia. (2022). Registered Nurse Demographics and Statistics in the Us. Registered Nurse Demographics and Statistics [2022]: Number Of Registered Nurses In The US (zippia.com)

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