Why nurses must demand evidence from hospitals

Where’s the beef?

Remember that commercial?  The Wendy’s commercial from the 80’s?  The senior citizen lady yelling at the camera after looking at her fast food hamburger, wondering where the heck the meat was…… “Where’s the beef?”

For nurses in Minnesota, right now we should be asking, “Where is the evidence?”  Where is the research in evidence-based practice that says patients are safer with a camera versus a 1:1 sitter? Where’s the evidence that says cardiac patients’ cardiac rhythms are better monitored by a technician in another state? Or how about an Intensive Care Nurse who has a full patient assignment also being assigned telemetry patients on another unit.  Where’s the evidence that says this is safe for the telemetry patient or the ICU patient? Where’s the evidence-based nursing practice and research that says mental health patients are best served in rooms in the Emergency Department?

According to the Nursing Scope and Standards of Practice, 3rd Edition, as professional nurses, we are responsible to use recent evidence-based knowledge, including research findings to guide practice, Standard 13. Evidence practice and research. We must incorporate evidence when initiating or when changes are thrust upon our organizations. At the very least, we need to request the employer provide the evidence so we can engage in professional and reasonable dialog around changes.

I have no doubt the evidence exists for cost-saving. After all, a camera doesn’t need health care benefits, workman compensation coverage, vacation and sick time. or breaks, right?  So of course, it’s best for the institution, for their bottom line, to use cameras rather than train and hire more staff to sit with a confused patient and keep them safe.

Of course, out-sourcing cardiac monitoring into one central location is cheaper. But where is the evidence that says a technician monitoring from another state is safer and produces better outcomes for cardiac patients? Where is the evidence that any of this is better and safer for patients?

As nurses, we must demand this evidence. After all, we are the patients’ advocates. Changes that save the employer money may not always be best for our patients. Let’s stop giving away our practice just because it seems like the change will provide relief from being overworked by hospitals. Let’s start insisting on evidence that protects patients, promotes wellness, and provides better care for all patients.


–Carrie Mortrud, RN



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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