I was shopping after work today and got to chatting with another shopper in the department store. He saw my nametag identifying me as an RN and told me that he, too, was a nurse.  He shared with me that he works night shift and that on his particular unit, he has 39 patients!  He said his first medication pass (when patients get their medications) can take him "quite some time."  And now, with electronic medical records, which is automatically timing his entries, he needs to move quickly.  Great—an even greater chance of medication errors occurring.

Now I fully understand that his patients are long-term patients and that because of the nature of the facility he is at, the residents are not mobile. But, still….39 patients for one nurse?  Despite my incredulity, he shared with me that he has long-term care nursing colleagues who work in other facilities where the patient to nurse ratio is 60 patients to one RN, with 2 or 3 nurses' aides.  Just what I wanted to hear.

God help the patients and the nurses caring for them!