A hospital patient left after pressing his call button for help and being ignored by nursing staff, per a video circulating on social media.
The video shows a TikTok user who goes by the name of Stei pressing his call button repeatedly, then deciding to leave his room after no one comes to check on him.
“They’ve had me waiting here for the past 30 minutes,” he says in the video. “I hear [the alarm] dinging outside. Do y’all hear?” Stei points the camera toward his hand so viewers can see that he’s repeatedly calling for help.
After futile attempts, he decides to leave. “I’m leaving,” he says, donning his headphones and heading to the exit. “I came here for medical assistance—not just to lay down…I could do that at home.”
Stei subsequently said that hospital staff did not communicate with him when he arrived. “They never told me how long I would have been waiting for, and I had already been checked in for a little over an hour,” he said in an interview with the Daily Dot. “After sitting there in complete silence with not even a nurse to come and ask how I was doing, I got fed up and left.”
Other TikTokers wrote in the comment section of Stei’s video that his experience is not uncommon. Some said it’s a reflection of the nursing crisis gripping American hospitals.
From 2020 to 2023, the US will need to hire more than 275,000 new nurses, according to a StatPearls paper on the crisis. The crisis is largely driven by grim working conditions: The number of patients each nurse is expected to take care of during a given shift—which is known as their ratio—is far too high at many American hospitals, experts say. The StatPearls paper says this aspect of the healthcare system is of “clinical concern”.
Research shows these consequences are dangerous for patients. “In hospitals with high patient-to-nurse ratios, nurses experience burnout, dissatisfaction, and the patients experienced higher mortality and failure-to-rescue rates than facilities with lower patient-to-nurse ratios,” the paper said.
In the end, these policies can be fatal. Research cited in a statement from the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) shows that when a hospital asks one nurse to care for eight patients at a time, five additional people will die at the hosptial annually. For each additional patient a nurse is asked to care for, the risk of patient death incrases by seven per cent. More lives are saved, and hospital stays are shortened, when appropriate patient-to-nurse ratios are estblished.
When nurses leave the industry due to unfair or dangerous working conditions, it exacerbates the problem, causing more nurses to have to care for higher numbers of patients, research shows. “When staffing is short, ratios go up to meet the need,” the StatPearls paper says.
Turnover is also quite expensive for healthcare systems—the average cost of replacing just one nurse is somewhere between $82,000 to $88,000, per NYSNA.
Ultimately, nurses have to be treated better to prevent incidents like the one Stei captured, where a patient was repeatedly calling for help and nobody was able to answer.
“Nurses know that safe staffing levels save lives—and the research is on our side,” the NYSNA statement says. “The facts line up with nurses’ experiences that safe staffing protects patients.”