Organizers with CT Nurses United gathered to air their frustrations about a current staffing shortage outside the state Capitol on the first day of the 2023 legislative session. Jaden Edison / CT Mirror

If you knew your loved one wasn’t going to get the appropriate care and treatment they needed to survive, would you still send them to that hospital to be cared for?

Nurses are feeling the burden of working short-staffed day in and day out. When will this end? When graduating from nursing school and starting their careers as bedside nurses, newer nurses are not staying at the bedside. But why you may ask? To put it simply: lack of staff and support.

Appropriate staffing levels are needed to increase patient satisfaction, improve nurse retention rates, all while decreasing errors. .

Patient safety is the number one priority as a registered nurse working as a bedside nurse. With that being said, nurses themselves face unsafe staffing ratios daily. When will the state of Connecticut realize that this is unacceptable? Unsafe nurse to patient ratios in the hospital setting are proven to increase mortality rates.

It’s not a secret that if bedside nurses were to have the appropriate staffing levels they needed, more nurses would stay working as inpatient, bedside nurses. The burnout bedside nurses experience can lead to personal traumas such as depression and insomnia or nightmares.. The stress will remain with these nurses and worsen as they continue to work under unsafe staffing levels.

When you think of safe staffing levels, do you think of how this will reduce the number of medication errors? Imagine you are starting your 12-hour shift assigned to care for six or seven patients on a fast-pace medical-surgical unit. How easy would it be to accidentally give a patient the wrong medication? Medication errors increase tremendously for each patient you take care of on your patient assignment.

Nurses are feeling burnt out and overwhelmed the minute they walk into work. We shouldn’t have to put our nursing license at risk when we agree to take on that extra patient. If we refuse to take on the extra patient and choose to stand up for both ourselves and licensure, then we are threatened to be written up. A fight for safe staffing ratios in the inpatient hospital setting will continue until we get what we deserve. This is our time to come together and support each other as bedside nurses.

Our neighboring state, New York, recently passed Bill Number S3023 in 2021 to establish safe staffing for its Hospital Care Act. This bill establishes minimum staffing levels for various health care workers in different health facilities through the requirement of staffing plans and prevention of mandates.

Connecticut nurses should be next to be supported by safe staffing ratios. With Connecticut having the appropriate ratios on inpatient hospital units, patients would get the care they needed and deserved. Nurse burnout would decrease tremendously.

Working short-staffed continuously puts patient’s lives at risk and increases risks for errors. At the end of the day, we can’t forget that safe staffing saves lives. As inpatient staffing levels continue to be a concern and Connecticut nurses continue the fight for safe staffing, nurses are in need of the support for HB1067. If this bill were to pass, safe staffing ratios would be assigned and mandated per inpatient unit.

Our state legislators are relying on the personal experiences and traumas of bedside nurses to prove why safe staffing ratios in the hospital are beneficial and would change the lives of nurses their patients for the better.

Stephanie Annes, RN is a Student at the University of Connecticut