In a June 2000 issue of the British Medical Journal an article revealed a surprising statistic: during a three-month period physicians in Israel imposed a series of sanctions in response to a disputed state-imposed wage contract. Those sanctions included the cancellation of hundreds of thousands of office and clinic visits as well as elective surgeries. The result? Mortality rates among hospitalized patients decreased. Conversely, numerous studies indicate that when nurses strike mortality rates increase in the 20% range. The numbers are significant.
Before anyone jumps to any conclusion that you're better off firing Dr. Marcus Welby, note that during the sanctions elective surgeries were cancelled, and if you don't go under the knife you won't have any of the risks and complications associated. This certainly would have affected mortality rates in the situation described. Concurrently, before making an assumption that without your nurse you are six feet under, striking hospitals see fewer patients, and those tend to be of a higher acuity, increasing mortality.
This shouldn't surprise anyone. Nurses are at the bedside, hour after hour, observing subtle nuances and identifying changes. A good nurse is not so much the one who saves a patient in the nick of time; a good nurse is the one who doesn't allow her patient to GET to that point. This happens day after day under her watchful eyes, the eyes that physicians rely upon to care for their patients. Anyone who has ever been hospitalized is well aware that the presence of the doctor is brief and fleeting; it is the nurse that will take the time to observe your wounds carefully, listen to your concerns, detect fluctuations in your vital signs, and respond quickly to subtleties you may not even recognize yourself. It is no wonder Gallup polls indicate that nurses are the most widely trusted professionals in America year after year.
It has been clearly illustrated time after time that nurses are the key to safe care. As we consider the contributions of the workers of this great nation today please remember nurses in your thoughts and prayers. Their contributions to our health and well being cannot be adequately measured.