Unsafe staffing incidents reach all-time high in Minnesota

The number of unsafe staffing incident reports is on the rise in Minnesota hospitals. In 2014, Minnesota nurses reported 2,148 unsafe staffing incidences where patient safety was put at risk because not enough nurses were scheduled for duty. That’s the highest number of reported incidents since nurses began tracking unsafe staffing.

This week, Northland News Center in Duluth looked at the growing problem in Minnesota hospitals:

Short staffing is a problem Minnesota nurses say they’ve been dealing with for years.

Joseph Howard, an RN works with critical burn victims in at the Miller Dwan Burn Center in Duluth.

He feels while it’s not a problem every day, there are many days when more nurses on duty would be better for patient care.

“It’s a real concern because I think nurses try and do everything they absolutely can to provide that care and without enough resources, in this case bodies, it’s impossible to do our job,” he said.

Margaret Bissenbach, an RN in the Cancer Unit at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, says things become unsafe when nurses can’t spend enough time with each patient as needed. She estimates that happens on about 20 percent of her shifts.

Minnesota nurses and lawmakers are hoping to find a solution for improving outcomes for all patients in Minnesota hospitals. Nurses are pushing for a minimum standard of care that they say will improve staffing levels and help protect patient safety. “The key is, and I think for their [the hospitals] sake as well as for patients and nurses, is to figure out what that ideal is,” Representative Joe Atkins, DFL of Inver Grove Heights told NNCNOW.com. “What is the best number, what is the best level of qualifications that ends up with the best outcomes for patients?”

The Minnesota Department of Health recently studied how low nurse staffing levels affects patient outcomes. While only 1 of the 40 hospitals selected for the study supplied the necessary data, the Minnesota Department of Health still found “strong evidence” that correlates patient mortality, failures to rescue, and patient falls with poor staffing levels in Minnesota hospitals.



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