Poll for Thought: Patients Question Availability of Nurses

July 16, 2012 in News

sick in america poll

In a poll “Sick in America,” conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NPR and the Harvard School of Public Health, 516 people who had a serious illness, medical condition, injury or disability requiring a lot of medical care or who had been hospitalized overnight in the past 12 months were questioned to examine experiences and attitudes related to the cost and quality of the U.S. medical care.  One concern that arose was the availability of nurses to patients, especially when it came to overnight stays.  34 percent of the 291 respondents who had been hospitalized overnight felt thought nurses were not available when needed or did not respond quickly when assistance was requested.

The alleged unavailability of nurses was one of the top issues that were mentioned when asked about problems during an overnight stay.  Other top ranking problems were also poor communication among physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals and a lack of clear communication from the same people about a respondent’s condition or treatment.  About 20 percent felt that the physicians were unavailable or failed to respond quickly when needed.  Also another 20 percent felt that upon being discharged the physician and nurses failed to provide necessary information.  And at 17 percent of the respondents perceived a lack of correct sanitation procedures by the physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals before entering a patient’s room or conducting an examination

On the lower end of percentage points from the responses was 8 percent saying that nurses did not check their names or allergies before giving treatment or prescriptions.  6 percent felt they had poor treatment because of race, ethnicity, cultural background or language.

In response to most of the other questions in the poll, there was no distinction made between physicians, nurses or other health professional.  30 percent of the 516 respondents said a doctor, nurse or other health professional did not spend enough time with them.  27 percent said a doctor, nurse, or other health professional was not accessible and 25 percent said they did not provide all the needed information about treatment or prescriptions.

What does this information tell us?  It is a way to gauge what is happening in healthcare in America.  There is already a trend when it comes to a shortage of nurses in the U.S.  Could this be a factor?  Could it be that the education system is failing our healthcare professionals with a lack of “soft skill” training?  There may not be one correct answer, or a cure all for all the short-comings when it comes to healthcare, but this could be an eye-opener to new nurses and other healthcare professionals coming into the field.  Look within yourself and the type of professional you strive to be.  Do your best, your efforts are applauded.

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