ICU patients malnourished due to number of nurses available

A study of the Intensive Care Unit of a university hospital found that in 73 cases out of 262 ICU patients didn’t receive enough food to adequately recover.   While there are many reasons for patients to be malnourished, the leading cause was feeding began too late due to a reduced nursing staff.  The study was published by the American Journal of Critical Care.

Nurses need to be available every three hours to oversee patient feeding as well as fend off complications due to feeding tubes, food indigestion, or simple feeding interruption.   In many cases, the extended time it took staff to begin the feeding process with patients resulted in patients still receiving fewer calories than they needed.  The biggest delay occurred between admission and insertion of the feeding tube, which took between 26-29 hours.  That study can be found here.

It’s another study that confirms the connection between safe patient care and staffing in hospitals, particularly by nurses.  Patients and soon-to-be patients have no idea what standard of care the hospital where they’ll be admitted will practice.  Patients deserve a minimum standard of care in every hospital, and they have a right to know the level of quality of care they’ll receive.  Hospitals must be transparent about their patient care, including the number of nurses on duty in each department.  With that information, consumers can compare their local hospitals to accepted standards set by professional organizations and choose the hospital with the best care.

Patient Story

arlene townsend staffing award

Unsafe staffing costs a Florida facility $1 billion

From Trial Magazine, March 2014 issue: Trial Magazine, 3/11/14 VERDICTS & SETTLEMENTS Arlene Townsend, 63 suffered a stroke and required 24-hour care. She was admitted to Auburndale Oaks Healthcare Center, a nursing home owned by Trans Healthcare, Inc. In the three years leading up to her death, Townsend suffered numerous fall resulting in broken bones and lacerations, infections, significant weight loss, chronic constipation, skin breakdowns, dehydration, and other problems. She is survived by her adult son. Townsend’s estate sued Trans Healthcare, alleging that it had understaffed the nursing home to increase profits and failed to provide adequate care, including protecting Townsend from falls, ensuring a safe environment, and documenting changes to her condition. The court entered a judgment of liability against the defendant, and the…
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