TORONTO, Feb. 26, 2014 /CNW/ - The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) is
warning patients in Toronto that two of the city's busiest emergency
departments remain dangerous places for those seeking care.
A full year after an expert panel made 40 recommendations to improve
patient care and safety at Humber River Hospital's emergency
departments, the hospital continues to fail to take action. Patients
and staff remain at risk because of understaffing, inadequate infection
control and escalating violence.
"It's outrageous that patients continue to be subjected to the
conditions at the Church Street and Finch Avenue ERs of Humber River
Hospital," says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "They see a high
volume of acutely ill patients who need expert Registered Nurse (RN)
care, safety and cleanliness, yet the hospital continues to put
patients at risk."
An Independent Assessment Committee (IAC) - a panel of nursing experts -
made recommendations to improve care and safety at the two ERs a year
ago. Despite these recommendations, the hospital continues to:
inappropriately use government funding for ambulance offload; fail to
provide a safe work environment for RNs related to an insufficient
number of security guards in an ER where there is regular gang-related
violence; house acutely ill ICU patients in the ER without appropriate
RN staffing when other hospital units are at capacity; and fail to
provide facilities to facilitate proper infection control procedures.
In addition, RNs note that unregulated Physician Assistants are
misrepresenting themselves, telling some staff and patients that they
are doctors, and inappropriately writing orders and directing care.
Other incidents documented by the RNs include the use of the ambulance
offload area as a "mini-ER," forcing patient care to be provided in
hallways. Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) are inappropriately
assigned outside of their scope of practice caring for the unstable,
unpredictable, complex patients. These patients are receiving care in
hallways where they have no privacy, and their conditions are
inadequately monitored. There are also regular violent incidents
against nurses due to the frustration of patients and families enduring
long waits for care. Finally, a number of patients are discharging
themselves because of what they view as inadequate care.
"ONA has worked persistently to develop meaningful and effective
solutions to correct these problems," says Haslam-Stroud. "Despite
multiple attempts over the last five years to work with Humber
management, they have been unwilling to take the necessary steps to
improve patient and staff safety. As RNs, we feel it is our obligation
as patient advocates to speak out. The evidence and research is clear
that every patient added to an RN's workload increases our patients'
death rate by seven per cent."
Haslam-Stroud continues to urge immediate action by the hospital to
address the multitude of issues. "These practices are not acceptable in
any hospital, and Humber River Hospital's ER sites see too many
vulnerable, acutely ill patients for these types of chances to be
taken. Humber must implement the IAC recommendations so patients can
access quality care - now. Our patients deserve no less."
Ontario continues to have the second-lowest ratio of RNs-to-population
in Canada, behind only British Columbia; 17,500 more RNs would need to
be hired in Ontario hospitals to start closing the gap of nursing care
patients face here, compared to patients almost everywhere else in the
country. Having more front-line nurses would mean shorter wait times,
fewer re-admissions and better health outcomes for patients.
ONA is the union representing 60,000 registered nurses and allied health
professionals, as well as more than 14,000 nursing student affiliates
providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health,
the community, clinics and industry.
SOURCE: Ontario Nurses' Association
For further information:
Ontario Nurses' Association
Melanie Levenson (416) 964-1979 ext. 2369; firstname.lastname@example.org
Ken Marciniec (416) 964-1979, ext. 2306; email@example.com
Visit us at: www.ona.org; Facebook.com/OntarioNurses; Twitter.com/OntarioNurses