Empowering Nurses at the Bedside and in Business

The McDonald’s Of Medicine

Recently I read an opinion piece in The New York Times magazine, written by a New York Belleview Hospital physician, titled “The Business of Healthcare Depends on Exploiting Doctors and Nurses.”  It discusses how electronic medical records (EMR) are designed to save us time and get documentation that can be easily searchable but, unfortunately, it’s a burden.

Data entry is mind-numbing and voluminous.  The Annals of Family Medicine reports “[P]rimary care doctors spent nearly two hours taken into the E.M.R. for every one hour of direct patient care.”  The article goes on to discuss how there are 10 administrators for every doctor.  If 5 of those salaries were taken to hire additional nurses and doctors, there may be enough clinical staff to handle the work.

To me, this article is sad but true.  We know that doctors and nurses will not walk away from their patients and are loyal to the core but also know that they will get exploited every day to keep the healthcare system running while taking care of patients.

At some point, we’re going to have to say “uncle” and that we can no longer do this.  We nurses are required to stay late to finish our charting but we’re not provided overtime unless it’s approved because the administration feels that we should get our charting completed in the time we have been allotted.

The article gives an analogy that if 30% more items were suddenly dropped on a factory assembly line, the process would come to a grinding halt.  But many nurses don’t take lunch breaks to try to squeeze in care for extra patients.

This is not only unacceptable … it is NOT safe!

As long as we are complacent with the hospital demands because we fear loss of our jobs, the problem will continue.

Even when patients are harmed because of lack of staffing, the facilities continue to function the way they are because they are designed like McDonald’s franchise.  Whoever can take care of the patient cheaper and quicker is the one that gets the insurance contract.

It’s sad that healthcare is run these days like a McDonald’s instead of like the community and religious organizations designed to take care of our community and tribe.

Something has to give or the healthcare system is going to implode.  Complacently sitting back is contributing to the problem.

I would never want to be a patient because healthcare workers are stretched too thin.

I believe nurses have the solutions to the problems in healthcare but either we are afraid to say something, or we don’t feel any one hears our solution.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the McDonald’s of medicine and what solutions you have.



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