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News » Physicians protest staffing woes at New York hospitals

Physicians protest staffing woes at New York hospitals

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES — Resident physicians at New York City’s public hospitals filed 483 grievances over a two-week period, alleging chronic understaffing that has left them overworked.

Overworked nurses

The grievances, announced on May 1st by the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR), span seven NYC Health + Hospitals (H+H) facilities and cover incidents where physicians were forced to perform tasks outside their job scope.

According to the union, these incidents range from drawing blood and transporting patients to handling social work duties – tasks that should be handled by other professionals such as phlebotomists, nurses, and social workers. 

“This is all the result of understaffing — there should be enough professionals ([such as] phlebotomists, nurses, social workers) to handle these tasks. It contributes to extreme burnout, and is part of what makes it so difficult for doctors to want to stay on at H+H after residency, along with the low pay,” Rachel Nass, lead communications coordinator with the union, told Becker’s.

Stress leads to poor healthcare delivery

The National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses, conducted annually by the Health Resources and Services Administration and the U.S. Census Bureau, revealed that nurses’ average workweeks increased by 84 minutes between 2018 and 2022.

Numerous studies have linked fatigue and excessive work hours to increased medical errors, impaired decision-making, and a higher risk of workplace injuries among healthcare professionals. 

The American Nurses Association has advocated for limiting nurses’ work hours to no more than 12 in a 24-hour period and discouraging overtime or extra shifts that could lead to fatigue-related errors. 

To aid nurses with their daily tasks, hospitals have outsourced back-office functions and employed virtual nurses.

Initially, virtual staff helped with back office and administrative tasks. However, their role has evolved to ambient patient monitoring. 

Other hospitals also use artificial intelligence, which can continuously scan a patient’s vital signs and update lab results. 

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