What Nurses Say

A 2016 poll released by the United Nurses and Allied Professionals showed that a majority of registered nurses working in Rhode Island hospitals believe that patient care is adversely impacted by unsafe staffing practices and compelling RNs to care for too many patients at one time.

The poll, conducted by Anderson Robbins Research, showed that only one third of responding RNs feel they have time to give needed care and attention to patients and their families. This poll confirms what nurses and bedside caregivers have been saying for years: Hospital administrators are unequivocally and unabashedly ignoring dangerously low staffing levels in Rhode Island hospitals and patients are feeling the impact.

Nurses and health professionals are being pushed beyond the limit and it’s led to a crisis of care in our hospitals. Because hospitals refuse to act, it’s time for the General Assembly to take action and ensure that patients are afforded the proper level of care and protection.

Among the poll’s key findings:

  • By a two-to-one margin, RNs are more likely to think that the quality of patient care in the state’s hospitals has gotten worse than better in the past two years. Among those who think care is worse, understaffing is cited as the main reason.
  • More than eight-in-ten RNs believe that the quality of patient care is suffering due to over-assignment of patients, and more than six-in-ten feel that they do not have enough time to provide patients with the necessary care.
  • Over half of RNs believe that the staffing situation has gotten worse over the past four years, and two-thirds say that staffing decisions are made based on hospital finances and profit margins, rather than patient acuity and staff workloads.
  • Nurses are highly aware of a range of specific negative patient outcomes as a result of inadequate staffing, including longer hospital stays and complications or readmissions. One-in-ten reported awareness of a patient’s death having resulted from unsafe staffing.
  • Both UNAP members and non-members overwhelmingly favor passing a law to establish a limit on the number of patients a nurse is assigned at one time. More than eight-in-ten RNs agree that the proposed law will improve the quality of patient care.