The environment in which hospital nurses work is a breeding ground for errors and will continue to threaten patient safety until substantially transformed, according to a new report by the Institute of Medicine. Nurses are overburdened with work, their reaction time is dulled by long hours, and their continuing education on new techniques and technologies often is scaled back by cost pressures, the report said. Among its recommendations for improvement, the IOM urged state regulators to prohibit nurses from working more than 12 hours per day and more than 60 hours per week. At the same time, it said healthcare facilities should avoid using nurses from temporary agencies and should provide elasticity in staffing schedules to accommodate unexpected workload changes. The IOM also said hospitals should follow other methods to preserve safe staffing levels, such as giving nurses authority to halt admissions to their units when staffing is determined to be inadequate for safe patient care. Read the IOM report. -- by John Morrissey
Nurses' environment crucial to patient safety: IOM
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