All of our group members continuously face similar ethical dilemmas resulting in the inability to provide competent and safe care that patients are entitled to. We as a group, have decided to come together to develop a plan on how we, as nurses, can affect change. It is vital for nurses to empower one another and provide support during stressful situations in the workplace. Equality in the work environment reduces power imbalances. Lastly, it is imperative that nurses unite to have stronger voices in creating policies and rules that ensure the best outcomes for the patients are achieved.
A situation arose where a nurse could not live out the value in providing safe, compassionate, competent and ethical care occurred on a busy evening shift on a sub-acute floor. On this particular evening, the nurse had 7 total-care heavy patients, and was expected to administer numerous medications, and provide evening care. During that evening, two of this nurses’ patients fell, and she also had to attend to her partner’s patient, who also had a fall. After ensuring all patients were uninjured, administration of medications, and completion of all assessments, the nurse barely had time to provide evening care. Two of the patients went to bed without being washed. The nurse was unable to do hourly safety checks on her patients, and she felt as if she had gone all evening without seeing some of her patients. She had to stay after her shift to complete two incident reports.
This experience affected the nurse deeply, and she did not feel in the least that she was safely providing care to these patients. The speed at which this nurse had to complete her tasks put her and her patients at risk, and the whole shift felt chaotic. This incident occurred approximately three years ago, and she still has not accepted another shift on the sub acute floor.
The barrier the nurse faced in being able to live this ethical value occurred at an organizational level, and is brought back to budget cuts. This heavy workload occurred because of the cost associated with hiring more nurses, or care aids, to reduce the workload. Another issue may have been staffing issues for this floor; turnover may be high, as other nurses may have similar experiences.