Everything doesn’t require a vote……
I’m struggling to wrap my mind around the fact that the 2012 Presidential Race is over and we have a winner identified in every State in the country except – Florida! I am a resident of this State and last evening I watched in amazement as reports of “voting irregularities” in South Florida’s Miami-Dade County where reported for yet another presidential election.
This time we have been spared the need to recount the vote or at least I’m hoping that is the case. Regardless, the country has elected a President. The dysfunction in Miami-Dade County is not interfering with our moving forward.
However, I find myself experiencing conflicted emotions. On one hand I am frustrated, maybe even a little angry, that the southeast coast of Florida continues to embarrass the whole State. On the other hand, having watched untold hours of election returns last night, I am a little too tired to care.
As a matter of saving my own sanity, I have turned off the television. In a few days I’ll Google the Florida election results and see if we are a “blue” State or a “red” State. Regardless of whether we are a “blue” State or a “red” State, I am certain we are in a “sad” state of affairs when it comes to participating in elections and that worries me.
But elections aren’t the only thing Floridians should be worried about based on research reported in HealthAffairs this month. Research out of the University of Pennsylvania reveals a link between long shift lengths for nurses and both nurse “burnout” and patient satisfaction! The study should give us all pause.
Increasing numbers of studies on nurse work hours and fatigue are identifying the magnitude of the adverse outcomes for both patients and nurses. It’s time we each took a long hard look at our nurses and asked the critical question: Are they too tired to care?
I suspect we will find they are too tired to care a lot of the time. Are they working shifts that are too long? Are they working too many consecutive shifts? Are they working too much overtime?
Addressing the issue is critical and advanced staffing and scheduling technology should be a central part of any workforce management program.
As healthcare leaders we must never lose our focus on both the needs of our patients and the needs of our staff. Their safety is of critical importance…and on this there will not be a vote!