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WFNHP Survey of Metro-Milwaukee Nurses Reveals Working Conditions for Nurses and Quality of Care are Worsening

For Immediate Release                       Contact: Candice Owley 414-475-6065, Ext. 21
May 5, 2008                                      Stephanie Bloomingdale 414-475-6065, Ext. 20

MILWAUKEE, Wis.--The Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (WFNHP) today released survey results from over 1,500 Milwaukee-area nurses.  The survey was conducted during the month of April 2008.

Candice Owley, RN, and President of the WFNHP said, "This survey paints a picture of nurses struggling to provide quality care while experiencing high workloads, forced overtime, and often going without a meal break.  According to the results, mandatory overtime and nurses fatigue is widespread and is a major contributor to errors in patient care.  Over 500 nurses gave examples of errors that have occurred as a result of nurse fatigue."

Staffing problems are creating patient safety problems throughout the healthcare system; but, in hospitals, the problems are severe. Over ninety percent of the hospital nurses say that there are units in their hospital that they believe are unsafe for patients because of staffing issues.

“Take a nurse with you if you are sick,” said Tiffany Heinen, RN, confirming the finding that 70% of the hospital nurses say they would worry about the quality of care their family members would receive in their own hospitals unless they themselves were present to keep an eye on that care. “My nurse friends are saying that too often their hospitals are creating short staffing situations that make it extremely challenging when trying to provide high quality patient care.”

Not only are nurses often working short and experiencing too much overtime, they too often work these demanding jobs without meal breaks. In the last two years, ninety-five percent of the nurses report times when they did not have a meal break. Thirty-nine percent said they rarely had a meal break, and a shocking twenty-six percent never had a duty free meal period.

The WFNHP will be sending results of the survey to area nurses and state and federal legislators. As follow up, WFNHP will demand that area employers begin providing meal periods or pay nurses when they don’t. WFNHP will urge legislators to introduce state legislation to deal with the critical issues of mandatory overtime, safe staffing, and safe work environments.

The Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals is a labor organization representing over 3,000 nurses and health professionals throughout the state of Wisconsin.

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Wisconsin FNHP is a division of AFT Healthcare, which represents more than 65,000 nurses and other healthcare professionals.

                               A Union of Professionals