42% of Michigan nurses say high patient load led to deaths

Compared to 2016, nearly twice as many Michigan nurses in 2023 say they know of an instance of a patient dying due to excessively high patient loads, according to polls commissioned by the Michigan Nurses Association. 

In the 2016 poll from the MNA, 22 percent of nurses reported that they were aware of a patient dying due to nurses having to care for too many patients at once. This year, that figure increased to 42 percent. The organization said the results show the need for a nurse-to-patient ratio law, which is currently pending in its state's legislature. 

Understaffing isn't the issue, most of the polled participants said, but working conditions are.

The lack of a ratio law "puts patients in danger and drives nurses out of the profession," Jamie Brown, BSN, RN, president of the Michigan Nurses Association, said in a statement

About 75 percent of nurses said they would be more likely to stay if the nurse-to-patient ratio legislation passes.

"Making nurses take care of too many patients is irresponsible and will lead to nurses continuing to leave the bedside," Ms. Brown said. "Nurses have witnessed hospital CEOs making millions of dollars while the quality of care has declined. Our current system is broken."

Four more poll results: 

1. Seven in 10 registered nurses working in direct care said they are assigned an unsafe patient load in half or more of their shifts.

2. More than nine in 10 RNs said requiring nurses to care for too many patients at once is affecting the quality of care.

3. Two in five RNs who left the profession said they would be more likely to return if a ratio bill were passed. 

4. One in four nurses said they're assigned a patient workload they believe is unsafe in almost every shift.

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