A recent poll of nurses in Michigan says there's a direct correlation between patient deaths and staff shortages at our state's hospitals.

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Nurses across the state of Michigan are saying that staff shortages and disproportionate nurse-to-patient ratios are becoming the new normal.

By the Numbers

A recent commission by the Michigan Nurses Association indicates that the number of Michigan nurses reporting a patient death due to understaffing has nearly doubled in recent years.

According to the report, 42 percent of nurses report that they are aware of a patient dying due to nurses having to care for too many patients at once. In 2016, 22% of nurses drew the same conclusion.

Other Key Findings

The number of nurses who report negative patient outcomes due to higher patient loads is staggering.

  • A full 92% of nurses who participated in the survey report that they are aware of an instance when nurses lacked the time necessary to comfort and assist patients and families due to RNs having to care for too many patients.
  • 87% of nurses lack the time necessary to educate patients and provide adequate discharge planning.
  • 75% report medication errors.
  • 61% say they are aware of patients that have been injured or harmed.

You Can't Just Blame the Pandemic

Christopher Friese is a professor and director of the Center for Improving Patient and Population Health at the University of Michigan. He tells Interlochen Public Radio that there are roughly 50,000 registered nurses with active licenses in Michigan who aren't actually working. He notes nursing vacancies in Michigan aren't necessarily a result of the pandemic.

“One of the big things to clear up for the public is that … we saw the writing on the wall that vacancies were going to be a problem for us, before the pandemic hit our shores,” Friese said.

He goes on to say that while doctors can order tests that drive revenue, "nursing is 100% expense." Cutting nursing staff can be the first move hospitals make when they're looking to reduce labor costs.

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