ANA President Responds to New York Times Opinion Column on Nurse Staffing

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Oncology nurse and New York Times opinion writer Theresa Brown, RN, addressed the growing crisis of nurse understaffing in her column “When No One Is on Call.” ANA President Karen A. Daley, PhD, RN, FAAN, posted a response.

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Theresa Brown, RN, rightly concludes that nurses are not an “elastic resource.” Nurses are critical to recognizing and intervening at the earliest stages of patient need. Nurse staffing has a direct impact on patient safety. We know that when there are appropriate nurse staffing levels, patient outcomes improve. Determining the appropriate number and mix of nursing staff is critical to the delivery of quality patient care. To do our part in addressing this long-standing problem, the American Nurses Association (ANA) is convening a unique conference, Fostering Innovative Staffing Solutions, to tackle the complex challenge of determining and delivering appropriate nurse staffing. Additionally, ANA worked closely with Reps. Lois Capps and David Joyce on the development of H.R. 1821 and will continue to support legislative initiatives that require hospitals to establish flexible staffing plans, with direct-care nurse input, based on factors specific to each nursing unit and work shift. Safe staffing is more than just easing the workload of over-burdened nurses. Nurse staffing levels could be the difference between life and death for patients, and that should be an unacceptable cost of doing business as usual.

Karen A. Daley, PhD, RN, FAAN
American Nurses Association