The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) announced today that 26,219 complaints have been filed by nurses to hospital management about understaffing in hospitals and nursing homes during 2019 and 2020. A total of 97,715 nurse signatures appear on those complaints because multiple signatures are allowed on each complaint. That is the equivalent of almost 35.9 complaints per day, every day for 730 days.
This data includes complaints from nurse members in the NYC H+H/Mayorals facilities, the backbone of care in the City. During 2019-2020 there were a total of 8,812 complaints about staffing, with 32,888 nurses signing.
“Both before and during the pandemic, understaffing at our public hospitals has been severe and puts patients in jeopardy. This condition in our hospitals continues today and our nurses must care for far too many patients. It is unsafe. The communities we serve pay a price– in lives,” said NYSNA Board Member Judith Cutchin, RN, President NYSNA’s NYC H+H/Mayorals Executive Council.
The complaints are called ‘protests of assignment’ (POA) and are formal complaints given to hospital management. A large number of complaints is further proof that Albany lawmakers must pass the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act to ensure that all patients across the state get the care they need and deserve.
The nurse descriptions that accompany the POAs tell a scary story of what is really going on inside New York hospitals.
One nurse writes:
High acuity patients, many telemetry, restraint, 2:1 observation and multiple isolations. Only 4 RN scheduled for shift. 1 RN out sick – no RN sent to relieve high ratios. Admissions from surgery as of this time. Multiple patients on bed alarms, majority of floor high fall risk who require staff to remain in bathroom. Patient safety in jeopardy.
Another nurse writes:
There is 1 Nurse in Triage & EMS. No Nurse in Asthma (HN covering Asthma). Two (2) Nurses per Team. Inadequate time for documentation and to provide basic & advanced critical care to patients. Lack of staff. Dangerous working conditions.Working: 10 nurses plus 1 Agency Nurse. Needed 7 more nurses. Bed Capacity: 27 Census: 38
A third nurse writes:
Inadequate time for documentation and to provide basic & advanced critical care to patients. Lack of staff. Dangerous working conditions. Needed 7 more nurses.
These types of stories are coming in everyday from across the state.
The impending release of a two-year peer-reviewed study on nurse staffing prior to the pandemic, co-authored by Linda H. Aiken, PhD, RN, FAAN, University of Pennsylvania, confirms the extreme condition of nurse staffing in New York. Dr. Aiken wrote, “From our empirical results, we estimated that were all NYS hospitals staffed at the 4:1 ratio proposed in the pending legislation, more than 4,370 deaths would have been avoided just among elderly Medicare patients admitted to hospitals with common surgical and medical reasons during the 2 years of the study, and many more deaths would have been avoided if all patients who benefit from improved nurse staffing were counted.”
The COVID pandemic underscores that safe staffing saves lives in hospitals and nursing homes. A recent report by Attorney General Letitia James is the latest evidence that connects safe staffing and positive patient outcomes. The central finding and core recommendation of the AG’s report are that poor staffing was a major factor in the high death toll in nursing homes, and that New York must enact enforceable, minimum staffing standards, or hours of care per resident.
Earlier this month, the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act moved out of the State Assembly Health Committee, and is moving ahead to the Codes Committee. It must be passed this year by the New York State Legislature and signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
ALBANY: DON’T TURN YOUR BACK ON NEW YORK PATIENTS OR NEW YORK NURSES!
For more information, go to CampaignForPatientSafety.org.