The Ontario Nurses Association has filed another complaint against Sault Area Hospital, charging that RNs in the emergency department are overworked.

The professional responsibility complaint recently lodged includes concerns that emergency nurses were to start drawing blood as of Wednesday, a task that up to now had been done by lab technicians called phlebotomists, and doing electrocardiographs (ECGs) by the end of the month, up to now done by ECG technicians.

“The nurses are constantly bringing their concerns forward to the union and management, and we’re working on their concerns. They do have legitimate patient-care concerns,” said Glenda Hubley, president of ONA Local 46.

While blood draws and ECGs are “definitely within a nurse’s scope,” Hubley said their issues have more to do with adding to an already busy workload. Transferring blood draws and ECGs to nurses had been planned since the 2009/10 Hospital Improvement Plan but was deferred until the move to the new site this year. But because the new ED is between two and three times larger than the previous one, among other reasons, Hubley said emergency nurses seem to be busier than ever and can hardly afford to take on new duties.

“What the hospital needs to look at is the busy-ness of the emergency department. Is it reasonable for her to do it based on her patient-care duties already? Are they adding another burden of workload to the ER nurse who is already overworked? And I think the answer to that is yes.”

Officials from management have met with “a working group of front-line nurses recently to address concerns,” said SAH spokesperson Mario Paluzzi in an e-mail.

“Some changes have already been implemented in the ED and subsequent meetings are planned to continue to address the situation. Both sides are making efforts to resolve the issues in a collaborative matter.”

They are scheduled to next meet June 20. If they can’t come to an agreement, an independent assessment committee is formed for hearings, as took place for a separate professional responsibility complaint.

ONA filed a complaint late last year in regard to registered practical nurses in the renal hemodialysis unit, where patients are treated for kidney disease.

Posted 6 days ago