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Increasing demands on nurses affect quality of care

Hospital squeeze hurts patient care

When I graduated as a registered nurse in 1990, day-shift nurses had four patients each; evening nurses six and night-shift nurses had 10. This was at an HCA hospital in Pinellas County where I worked on the night shift for three years. We were provided with no nursing assistants. Ten patients equals six minutes an hour per patient Those six minutes allowed for assessment, medication delivery, charting, physician calls, admissions, discharges, death and codes; wound care, special requests and surgical preparations.

As time went on, hospitals squeezed out the evening shift and most hospitals have two 12-hour shifts and each nurse gets 10 patients each, as an average, day or night. At this pace a nurse barely has time to think, let alone meet the health-care needs of each patient, despite CEO assurances that hospitals deliver "excellent quality of care.'' If that were true, why would the largest hospital system in Pinellas County provide a VIP wing?

We've pushed hospital care back a hundred years in terms of quality care, otherwise we would not have the exorbitant rate of medication errors, hospital acquired infections and general dissatisfaction that we see today.

There are almost no rules of conduct. Hospitals allow newborn infants to visit a med-surg floor where infectious diseases are present; patients can party in their rooms at all hours of the night with multiple visitors while calling out for their pain meds; or have their beloved doggie visit in their bed. Sane patients can jump up and down on their bed and their guest can jump up and down in the vacant bed next to them. A male guest visiting his lady friend can stay overnight in the room despite the lady patient in the next bed who's going for surgery in the morning.

I left one hospital when the patient load crept from 10 to 11 and the hospital decided nurses should also do the 4 a.m. lab draws and administer the respiratory therapy treatments. And don't forget the chart audits while you're at it.

The last shift I worked of my 20-year career went for 13.5 hours without a break of any kind. I resigned the next morning.

People are paying for professional care, hence the exorbitant cost of hospitalization. Their care should not be relegated to nurses' aides. Professional nurses need adequate time to assess and monitor their patients as well as make sure they receive the attention and services those on the VIP wing receive.

L. J. Phillips, RN (Retired), Brooksville

Beware sinkhole repair scammers

With so much recent attention being given to sinkhole premiums, it is time to shine a spotlight on a disturbing practice in our community. When someone files an insurance claim for a sinkhole, an engineer is required to inspect the damage and write a report listing conclusions and recommended fixes to make the home safe again. State law requires these reports to be filed with the clerk of the circuit court.

It has come to my attention that some unscrupulous home repair people are taking these reports and going, unannounced, to the homes of the policyholders. They represent themselves as having been sent by the homeowner's insurance company to perform the repairs suggested in the report. Unsuspecting homeowners, especially senior citizens unfamiliar with how sinkhole repairs are carried out, end up signing a contract to perform the repairs.

It is important that homeowners be aware that insurance companies do not send home repair companies to your house. If anyone shows up at your door claiming that they were sent by your insurance company, immediately call your insurance agent or insurance company to find out if the person was sent by them. Chances are they were not. If they have not gone away on their own, and they refuse to leave when you tell them to, don't hesitate to call the police. These people prey on the trusting and vulnerable among us. Please don't let yourself be taken in by them.

I encourage everyone who has made a sinkhole claim to be extra vigilant. Keep in touch with your insurance company and work with it to identify a repair company. Being prepared with this information will come in handy if any of these thieves try to take advantage of you. They will be the ones who are surprised when you send them away.

Mike Fasano, State Senator, District 11, New Port Richey

Face it: Postal service is obsolete

I hate to tell it to the U.S. Postal Service workers, but the battle to save your positions is a pretty futile one for obvious reasons. Like the carriage and blacksmith positions that faded away with the invention of the automobile, the invention of the Internet means the Postal Service in its current state is going the way of the dodo bird.

With nearly every person in this country using the Internet to send mail, pay bills, order products and send birthday cards, the Postal Service is losing money. Nearly all the mail today we receive is junk mail. From time to time, the mail is lost for various reasons and that, to say the least, is frustrating.

No matter what the postal workers say or do, the current postal system has passed, and everyone knows it except for them.

Peter Stathis, Spring Hill

Medicare drug rule for transplants| Sept. 25 column

Kidney disease's pain doesn't show

I appreciated your passing the word that kidney disease is viewed by many people rather ignorantly. They see you and say there's nothing wrong with you because they can't see it. Also, if you are not to stage 4 (dialysis) people think you are lying when you say you have kidney disease.

His (Joe Karan's) situation touched a chord with me. I, too, get tired after about four good hours, usually in the morning, the rest of the day is a waste unless I make it to the bus on Wednesday evening to sit at a computer keyboard.

The problem with kidney disease, other than that other people don't see anything wrong with you, is that your heart and lungs eventually become the victims of your kidneys.

Kathy Lambert, Dade City

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Increasing demands on nurses affect quality of care 10/01/11 [Last modified: Saturday, October 1, 2011 9:45am]
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