According to a 2000 survey by the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania, 43% of nurses report they feel "burned out" trying to carry out their jobs.
In 2001, about 80% of hospitals reported a shortage of nurses, according to New York-based Fitch Ratings.
And the American Hospital Association reports about 126,000 unfilled registered nurse positions.
Sometimes doctors don't help matters. When one hospital department chair became angry, he would throw instruments at nurses, recalls registered nurse Diana Mason, now editor-in-chief of American Journal of Nursing. But when she reported him, no one in the hospital would do anything. "Everyone was an enabler," she recalls.