I would like to correct a perception that letter-writer Doug Morrell made ("Lawyers salivating over nurse's remark," Jan. 11, p. 46) in response to my comments about a nursing shortage ("The nurse rush," Dec. 14, 1998, p. 34).
I do not want to engage in a war of words, and I certainly do not feel that Morrell should be fired for his comments (as he said he believed I should be). And I want him to understand that the responsibility of providing appropriate care is taken very seriously by me and every professional at Northeast Medical Center Hospital.
My comments that we are short of nurses were not meant to imply that staffing levels and patterns at my facility are less than optimal. Perhaps a better statement would have been, "It is not unusual to seek supplemental nursing staff, either from our internal nursing staff pool or from outside agencies, to provide the appropriate hours of nursing care as well as the kind of care that our patients deserve."
The shortage of registered nurses and other caregivers, especially in acute-care facilities, is a very real problem. The focus of our profession should be to discuss reasons students are choosing professions other than nursing and why nursing professionals already in practice are choosing to leave the acute-care setting. I would hope that nursing and other medical professionals would rather focus on a solution than on the ways and means of litigation.
Assistant administrator/Patient Care Services
Northeast Medical Center Hospital