He was lying in his bed struggling to take every breath. The Hospice doctor said he wouldn’t live more than twenty-four hours now. Uncle Ralph’s chest sounded like a motor running because his lungs were so congested. We thought that suctioning out his lungs would help him to breathe a little easier so I volunteered to ask the nurse for help. Doctor Kinsley called for an available nurse. The one around the corner yelled back that she could come to his room. She was told that we requested some help for Ralph’s breathing, and she said, “Shall I dim the lights and open the windows for them too?” What would you think that she meant? I was devastated that someone could be so insensitive, especially a nurse in a Hospice facility. I didn’t know what to say or do; I just stood there with my mouth hanging open in dismay. We were already emotional and exhausted to say the least. If I said something that was out of line how would that make our family look? Did this nurse have a bad day; or was she a horrible person that someone needed to fire?
Why would someone become a nurse if they didn’t really love people and want to help them? Many nurses go into the profession for the wrong reasons. Some people are pushed into careers that aren’t right for them. Families have long running histories of perceived standards that have to be lived up to. The money appears to be attractive in the nursing field so after just two years anybody can do it. Just take a few classes and your responsible for another person’s life. A lot of medical professionals do mean well, but they are so distracted that they can’t focus on doing their job well. Personal problems and responsibilities become overwhelming, leading to poor patient care and sometimes death.
Bad nurses have many negative effects on patients and families. Patients don’t receive adequate care, families become angry, and lives are lost every day because of poor nursing. “While they may not intend to harm patients, their behavior may result in patient injury” (Wolf, Zane, Robinson 20). So, how could we allow this to happen? According to a USA Today article, bad nurses are easily jumping state lines to get work. There are gaps in licensing laws that allow nurses with suspended status’ to continue to work. “Nationwide, nursing shortages have forced hospitals to rely on traveling or temporary nurses” (Weber and Ornstein 3). This means a nurse could abuse a patient or take their medications without other states being notified. If they are addicts they can just move and work in a new facility to continue their habits. The question arises, why don’t instances of poor practice get reported?
When student nurses come into the workforce, they have a perfect opportunity to report improper care, but many times they don’t. There are many reasons why unsafe practices don’t get documented. “These include fear of blame, particularly among junior staff; high workload; staff perception of the incident; lack of feedback; and lack of knowledge of what happens in the reporting process” (Belefontaine 7). My experience in nursing care has been that patients are given the best care that can be given under time and workload constraints. This care is often less than optimal, but with no foreseen way to make changes to the policies we have to make personal improvements.
Some nurses don’t realize the long lasting effects of their actions on patients. The effects of bad nurses reach far and wide in the health care setting. Measures are being taken to ensure that nurses that practice bad medicine can’t continue to do so. Nurses like the one Uncle Ralph had shouldn’t be doing what they are doing. If someone isn’t caring and compassionate then they really shouldn’t be a nurse.
I hope that one day I can be a great nurse. Our family has experienced bad nurses on several occasions, but we have had more loving and caring nurses. Education is a key to good nursing practices for everyone. The future of the nursing profession depends on honorable people stepping up to the plate for what is right.