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I have witnessed this situation at Kaiser San Francisco, where I worked; at UCSF, where my husband had surgery, and at Marin General where a friend, a new nurse, was working in a med-surg ward with very little training or support. It is pervasive. Hospitals are engaged in a race to cut nursing hours in order to save money, at our patients' expense. If you are a patient, or visit a loved one who's a patient at any hospital, you will see evidence of this unscrupulous practice. Need pain medication? So do other patients; you have to wait your turn. Need help to get out of bed to the bathroom? You may or may not get help. Taking a turn for the worse? Let's hope there are enough nurses so you get what you need.
Nurses simply can not give adequate care when there aren't enough to do the job.
Managers are the bad guys; carrying out orders to cut back, and purposely not hearing staff nurses who beg for help when staffing is dangerously low. What happens to the managers who listen to the cries of nurses, and try to staff according to patient acuity? Those managers lose their jobs.
What's the answer? Talk about the situation, spread the word, complain to your elected officials. All of us will experience this dire situation first hand as patients, or as loving family and friends. I want to change it before more harm is done.
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