Doctor and NurseNurses live in fear they will make mistakes that result in disciplinary action against their license. There are 3 things that create incalculable risk to both nurses and patients:

1. Not having enough staff to meet the scheduled need of your unit or team.
2. Inaccurate staffing patterns.
3. Lack of adequate high level support when patient acuity is high.

Here is an all too common scenario I experienced recently that could have put my RN license, as well as my colleague’s licenses, in jeopardy…

I was called in to help supervise at an 80 bed long term care facility that was significantly understaffed due to excess call outs. Physician’s orders could not be entered quickly enough if at all. Medications were dispensed too slowly and patients suffered, which raised everyone’s stress levels to the breaking point. The director of nursing and administration was no where to be found. The unit manager was already working a double shift and eventually ended up staying for 24 hours, which is against labor laws.

Who can quantify the potential errors that may have occurred in this stressful and chaotic day?

Every nurse has experienced days like this. While excessive call outs and other factors can’t be controlled, many can.

As a Nurse Leader, you are responsible for ensuring that your team is in a position to provide both safe and quality care.

Take a personal leadership inventory:

  • Assess staffing patterns and implement safe nurse-to-patient and staff-to-patient ratios based on acuity levels.
  • Assess the number of call outs/sick calls you have over a period of time. This may be an indicator that your staff is burned out or not happy with the way things are run on the unit.
  • Create a reliable resource of per diem staff that would like to pick up hours. Also, have a backup resource pool or staffing agency for desperate times.
  • ASSIST YOUR TEAM. When things are going crazy with patients and the challenges of quality care are amped up, roll up your sleeves and help.  Your team will know you care and that you are in it with them.
  • Begin building an AMAZING TEAM that works together for patents and each other.