Nurses are the backbone of the hospital — just ask pretty much any doctor or patient. But a new poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health finds 34 percent of patients hospitalized for at least one night in the past year said “nurses weren’t available when needed or didn’t respond quickly to requests for help.”
Since nurses provide most of the patient care in hospitals, we were surprised at the findings. We wanted to find out more. We wanted to know what was going on from nurses themselves. So we put a call-out on Facebook.
We received hundreds of responses and read them all: piles of stories about nurses feeling overworked, getting no breaks, no lunches and barely enough time to go to the bathroom. Even worse, many nurses say breaks and lunchtimes are figured into their salaries and deducted, whether they take them or not.