JCAHO paints grim picture about nursing shortage
Tracking the disappearing American nurse
In releasing a report warning about the nation’s growing nursing shortage, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations cited the following findings:
• There are 126,000 nursing positions currently unfilled in hospitals across the country.
• Fifty-six percent of hospitals report they are using agency or traveling nurses — at great expense — to fill vacancies.
• On average, nurses work an extra 8½ weeks of overtime per year.
• It is estimated that by 2020, there will be at least 400,000 fewer nurses available to provide care than will be needed.
• Ninety percent of long-term care organizations lack sufficient nurse staffing to provide even the most basic care.
• There are roughly 21,000 fewer nursing students today than in 1995.
• One study found that in 1999, 5% of female college freshman and less than 0.05% of men identified nursing as being among their top career choices.
• Nursing schools turned away 5,000 qualified baccalaureate program applicants in 2001 because of faculty shortages. In Georgia alone, a quarter of the state’s nursing school faculty will retire or resign over the next four years.
• The average age of a working registered nurse, 43.3 years old, is increasing at a rate of more than twice that of all other work forces in this country.
• Organizations that are better able to retain their nurses fare better on quality measures. Low turnover hospitals — at rates under 12% — had low risk-adjusted mortality scores as well as the low severity-adjusted lengths-of-stay compared to hospitals with turnover rates that exceeded 22%.
• Staffing levels have been a factor in 24% of the 1,609 sentinel events reported to the Joint Com-mission over the past five years.
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