Shortage of Nurses Hikes Health Costs

By Milt Freudenheim, Ny Times | THE JOURNAL RECORD, July 21, 1988 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Shortage of Nurses Hikes Health Costs


Milt Freudenheim, Ny Times, THE JOURNAL RECORD


An acute shortage of nurses in hospitals and nursing homes has added billions of dollars to the nation's escalating expenditures for health care.

Of the nation's 1.9 million registered nurses, the most ever, at least 1.5 million are currently working in the profession. But hospitals and nursing homes still need at least 150,000 more nurses.

Hospitals will spend $3.1 billion this year to recruit and train nurses, said Carolyne K. Davis, head of a federal commission that is studying the situation for the secretary of health and human services, Dr. Otis R. Bowen.

In Boston, where the shortage is especially acute, employment agencies are asking hospitals to pay commissions of $8,000 to $10,000 for each nurse hired. And Southern California hospitals are paying the equivalent of $85,000 a year for temporary nurses provided by employment agencies.

For the lack of nurses, many large hospitals, especially in large cities, have had to take beds temporarily out of service, forfeiting revenues. For example, the University of Michigan Hospitals system estimated that it had lost more than $2 million in net income since October after temporarily leaving 66 beds empty.

There have been cyclical nursing shortages for years. The last one, in 1979 and 1980, was remedied when nurses' pay scales were raised, on average, 13 percent. But experts say the current shortage will be harder to solve because of changes in the health care field.

As the federal system of paying pre-set fees for Medicare patients took effect in 1983 and 1984, hospital beds were left empty and some nurses were dismissed. The hiring soon resumed as hospitals cut payrolls, eliminating medical technicians and aides while seeking to maintain standards by giving additional duties to registered nurses.

As a result, hospitals are using more registered nurses - about 80 for each 100 patients - than ever before. Nurses are helping to operate high-technology devices and to monitor the increasing proportion of patients in intensive-care units.

Davis and other experts have proposed various remedies, starting with raises, flexible benefits and child-care services for nurses.

New York-area nurses won double-digit increases in recently signed contracts, raising starting pay to $29,000 - higher than that of police officers and firefighters. The national average for beginning nurses is about $22,000.

In the past, most nurses have not received the kinds of rewards for experience and education that teachers and other professionals have.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Shortage of Nurses Hikes Health Costs
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?