By Julie Cullen, Managing Editor, American Nurse Today
Nurses and doctors almost always do the right thing when they’re asked to go above and beyond, even when it means foregoing personal time with their families or their own self-care. They do it because they know if they don’t, their patients’ health may be jeopardized.
The question Dr. Danielle Ofri asks in her recent New York Times opinion piece is whether healthcare organizations take advantage of that knowledge…nurses’ and doctors’ willingness to do more with less…to save money. In other words, are medical professionals being exploited by the business of healthcare?
Ofri notes that medical complexity—patients with more than one severe chronic condition—has increased but the time and staff needed to care for those patients hasn’t. She makes this analogy: “In a factory, if 30% more items were suddenly dropped onto an assembly line, the process would grind to a halt. But in healthcare there is a wondrous elasticity—you can keep adding work and magically it all somehow gets done. The nurse won’t take a lunch break if the unit is short of staff members. The doctor will “squeeze in” the extra patients.”
Recently, though, the World Health Organization noted the serious effects of workplace burnout, which are higher among nurses and doctors than the general population. These medical professionals also commit suicide at higher rates than other professions.
Ofri points out an interesting statistic and solution: Between 1975 and 2010, the number of healthcare administrators increased 3,200%—about 10 administrators for every doctor. What if half of the salaries to pay administrators went to more nurses and doctors? Would that provide enough frontline staff to provide patient care?
Source: The New York Times