AARP Bulletin highlights nursing shortage, ways to try to survive it
May 2003 -- This month's Bulletin of the American Association of Retired Persons has a helpful article by Susan Jacoby on the nursing shortage and the immediate danger it poses to patients, as well as a sidebar with tips on how patients can try to reduce that danger. The article explains the magnitude of the shortage, how it came about, and what it means for patients, including just what nurses do for patients and recent studies showing that nurse short-staffing significantly increases the risk of complications and death. The piece also describes governmental efforts to address the shortage, especially state legislation mandating nurse staffing ratios. The sidebar, "Surviving the Nursing Shortage," gives practical tips to patients. These include doing research on nurse staffing levels in choosing a hospital and, essentially, taking more responsibility for making sure you get good, safe care, since the current health care system makes it much more difficult for nurses to do that.