University of Iowa nurses protest increased patient load

Nurses from Iowa City-based University of Iowa Health Care protested their rising patient load on Sept. 29, The Gazette reported. 

The health system has increased the patient ratio so a single nurse might care for five patients, though the preferred load is three, according to the newspaper. 

The nurses said a lack of auxiliary staff, such as nursing assistants and lab technicians, increases the burden. 

The health system has 381 open nursing positions and has been using travel nurses for years, according to the newspaper. 

"Hospital staffing needs can change quickly based on the number of patients and their level of acuity (severity of illness)," the system said in a statement shared with The Gazette. "When more staff are needed, existing staff have the option to pick up additional shifts or hours for additional pay." 

The health system did not comment on its reasoning for increasing the patient load, according to the newspaper. 

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