Union launches campaign urging patients to ‘insist on a registered nurse’

There’s no substitute for the professional judgment and personalized care nurses provide to their patients. That’s the message behind radio and online ads airing across the country, including in Minnesota, that advise the public to “insist on a registered nurse.”

National Nurses United, the nation’s largest union of nurses (the Minnesota Nurses Association is a member organization), is underwriting the ad campaign in response to sweeping changes underway in the nation’s health care delivery system.

Those changes, according to nurses, pose potential threats to patient safety.

“An unchecked proliferation of unproven medical technology and sharp erosion of care standards are rapidly spreading through the health care system, far outside the media spotlight but frighteningly apparent to nurses and patients,” the NNU said in a statement announcing the campaign.

Among the emerging trends that have nurses concerned is an expansion of “digitalized care,” in which computers diagnose patients and dictate their treatment based on generic population trends – and not the health status or care needs of the individual.

Computerized electronic health records systems, too, pose a threat to patient safety. The Office of the Inspector General for the Health and Human Services Department has reported widespread flaws in these systems, and when they fail, doctors and nurses are left in the dark, without access to medical histories or medical orders.

Computer programs should never supplant the professional assessment and judgment of experienced nurses and doctors, according to NNU Co-President Jean Ross, a member of the Minnesota Nurses Association.

“The American health care system already lags behind other industrialized nations in a wide array of essential health barometers from infant mortality to life expectancy. These changing trends in health care threaten to make it worse,” said NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN. “Behind every statistic is a patient, and their family, who are exposed to unnecessary suffering and risk as a result of the focus on profits rather than what is best for individual patient need.

“What we are advising every patient, every American to do is stand up and be heard. When it matters most, insist on a registered nurse.”

NNU’s ad campaign features radio spots, online videos and social media outreach. To watch the new videos and hear the radio ads visit www.insistonanRN.org.

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