An essay in the Opinion Today section of the New York Times stated that the real cause of the nursing shortage is hospital greed.
It’s a bleed (nursing shortage) that began many years ago. The root cause? Hospital greed. It is the result of decades of mismanagement in a money—driven hospital system that prioritizes profit over patient safety. Far from a shortage, there’s never been more licensed nurses in America—they’re not being hired.King, Lucy. “The Root Cause of the Nursing Crisis isn’t Covid.” The New York Times, 19 Jan. 2021.
My last post discussed the various obstacles that led to nurse burnout, which eventually caused nurses to leave the profession. I overlooked hospital greed. Paying more attention to the bottom line, many hospitals limit adequate nurse staffing.
California passed AB 394 in 1999 that established minimum registered nurse-to-patient ratios for hospitals. The final regulations were implemented on January 1, 2004. The law has improved patient care, lowered mortality, and improved nurse retention.
While no other state has passed a nurse-patient-ratio law, two Congresspersons, Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), are introducing a new bill on the national level: Nurse Staffing Standards for Hospital Patient Safety and Quality Care Act.
This bill will improve the health of patients by improving nursing care—establishing minimum registered nurse-to-patient ratios in hospitals, providing whistleblower protections to nurses who advocate on behalf of their patients, and investing in training and career development to retain hardworking nurses in the workforce. The pandemic has only magnified the need to support nurses in their work.
What excites me is that rather than states working on individual bills, this bill will direct behavioral change in all USA hospitals. I’ll be keeping an eye on its progression and giving support to its passage whenever I can. I hope you do, too.
Watch this powerful video that shows how insufficient hospital staffing undermines safe nursing practice.
We Know the Real Cause of the Crisis in Our Hospitals. It’s Greed.
Nurses would like to set the record straight on the hospital staffing crisis. Video By Lucy King and Jonah M. Kesse