Too few nurses are caring for too few patients at local hospitals — that’s the concern of the Prince George’s County, Maryland, council.
On Tuesday, members passed a resolution that would allow the county’s health board to study nurse-to-patient ratios.
“They’re overworked,” Council Vice Chair Wala Blegay said. “When a family member comes and says, ‘I took my mother to the Capitol Regional Hospital, and then I didn’t see the nurse and nobody came,’ and all that. That’s because of nurses overwhelmed.”
Blegay sponsored the resolution for the health board to collect empirical data that involves nurse and support staff ratio, and how it would also affect patient care within the county.
“Where will the nurses come from to implement the goal of this resolution?” Council member Calvin Hawkins said before voting for the resolution. “And is there a risk this could result in fewer health care services for Prince George’s County residents if staff are unavailable? Could there be diversions to the other hospitals outside of the county?”
Blegay cited being overwhelmed with patients is why nurses are leaving the bedside in high numbers.
“What we’re trying to do is send a message to bring the nurses that we have back to the bedside,” Blegay said. “The way you do that is in implementing a safe staffing policy; and that way, nurses that are out of the bedside will consider coming back because there’s nurse burnout.”
Around a dozen local nurses were on hand when the council passed the resolution.
“Our medical system is more advanced than ever. This shouldn’t be a problem. There’s no administrative errors that should cost a person their life,” said a nurse who works at the University of Maryland Capital region Health Center.
“Legislation and specific standards placed at the county and state level can make that a reality,” said the nurse, who did not want to be named.
The nurse said that many in her profession are being pushed away from nursing “because then you’re going to be held liable for somebody dying when you brought up the … unsafe situation (in the) first place and it was never addressed.”
The data gathered from the county health board study will eventually be sent to the Gov. Wes Moore and the Maryland legislature requesting immediate action.
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