Independent Nursing Panel Makes 68 Recommendations to Improve Care at Lakeridge Health Emergency Department

OSHAWA, ON, May 14, 2013 /CNW/ - The Independent Assessment Committee (IAC) called in by the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) has made 68 recommendations to address the concerns of registered nurses about staffing in Lakeridge Health Oshawa's ER.

The panel's report makes recommendations around the use of RNs and RPNs in the ER, human resource planning and nurse staffing and unit culture, morale and communication.

"The IAC recommends that Lakeridge Health employ a more systematic HR resource planning method and evaluate it on a regular basis," notes ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "Employing sufficient numbers of nurses in the ER is vital to safe patient care and the department must have an adequate number of nurses on site at all times," she says.

ONA members have repeatedly expressed concerns about nurse staffing levels in the ER and felt that Lakeridge officials were failing to adequately address their concerns around patient safety resulting from what they believe were overly heavy workloads. RNs were also concerned that RPNs - registered practical nurses with less training, education and a more narrow "scope of practice" than RNs - were being asked to care for patients who were beyond the RPNs' scope of practice. The IAC found that RPNs should be limited to working one shift in the Medical Observation area where the patients are more stable.

"The nursing experts on the panel have also recommended the hospital consider using an all-RN model in the treatment area, allowing for more staffing flexibility between the treatment and assessment areas," says Haslam-Stroud. "They also recommended that if an RN is unable to work a shift, they should be replaced by an RN only, not an RPN."

Haslam-Stroud says that patients rely on safe, quality care in their hospital ER. Ensuring that patients receive that level of care should be the goal of every hospital and every nurse in the unit, and budget pressures should not be allowed to erode that quality of care. The president strongly urges Lakeridge Health management to implement the recommendations of this expert panel.

ONA is the union representing 60,000 front-line RNs, RPNs and allied health professionals and more than 14,000 nursing student affiliates providing care in Ontario hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, industry and clinics.

SOURCE: Ontario Nurses' Association

For further information:

Ontario Nurses' Association

Sheree Bond    (416) 964-8833, ext. 2430;
Ruth Featherstone   (416) 964-8833, ext. 2267;
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