Labor Dispute: Gambling With Patient Care In Las Vegas

nurse2.jpg On Monday, approximately 800 Las Vegas nurses were locked out of their hospitals after trying to negotiate for increased staffing and improved patient care. They had been intimidated by union-busters, suspended for supporting unions, and working without a contract since June.

United Health Services (UHS), the association in charge of the two hospitals, yesterday agreed to let the nurses return to work on Saturday and begin negotiations, but the work to ensure quality care is far from over. An August study ranked the Nevada last “among the 50 states in the number of registered nurses per 100,000 residents. The study found that Nevada had 514 registered nurses per 100,000 residents in 2000, well below the national average of 780 nurses per 100,000.”

Increased staff at hospitals — what the nurses in Nevada are fighting for — has a direct impact on improving patient care:

— “6,700 patient deaths and 4 million days of hospital care could be avoided each year by increasing staff of registered nurses.”

Lowering a nurse’s workload by one patient decreases the mortality rate by 7 percent.

— “85 percent of nurses work longer on a daily basis than their scheduled hours. Recent research has documented a substantial increase in the rate of errors associated with nurses working more than twelve consecutive hours, and close to half of hospital staff nurses commonly work longer than twelve hours.”

— Nurses who are union members generally make 13 percent more than non-union nurses.

Nursing shortages are, in large part, a result of inadequate wages. Nurses who are union members generally make 13 percent more than non-union nurses. Therefore, by discouraging the nurses to join SEIU and refusing to negotiate with the union, UHS has been blocking better care for patients.

Taylor Marsh has more.

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