I just read Joe Simone's column in the January 10th issue on “Patient Harm in Hospitals.” I agree with what he said, especially about nurses. I have been a nurse for over 40 years and have seen a lot of things come and go.
The biggest problem over the years, with all the budget cuts, is that eliminating nursing positions has always been an immediate fix to the fiscal problem. The patient has suffered the most because now there are less of us doing more and more. You have overworked professions doing the bidding of management and physicians when they should be caring for patients.
Burnout has taken its toll on more and more nurses. Today, nursing is just a paycheck. I shudder at what I see on a daily basis and wonder why there is not more harm done. My era of being a professional nurse is sadly gone. My standards are not those of the up and coming “professional nurse.”
NOREEN MEANOR, RN, OCN
Medical Center Clinic
West Penn Allegheny Oncology Network
Reply from Joe Simone:
Thanks for your note. You are not the first to respond as you have. There are forces within and outside the medical and nursing professions to de-professionalize them. You are correct that from management's point of view, since salaries make up the majority of hospital and outpatient costs, in a financial crunch nursing is the first place management looks for cuts.
I have said several times in my columns that I blame the trustees as well as management. Trustees rarely ask for objective data on how good the quality of care is and they also pay managers based largely on financial performance rather than quality.
In my 50 years in medicine, nurses got attention and respect only when there was a severe shortage of nurses creating a crisis that required closing floors or reducing OR times. That is a sad commentary on our system. An even sadder development has been the vain hope that getting more nurses into management would help change attitudes…it hasn't. All we can do is to continue to speak truth to power.