With new COVID-19 cases exceeding 5,000 per day in Florida, nurses on the frontlines have had to quickly adapt to new roles and new procedures in a relentless battle to save lives. They have often worked without sufficient resources, support or protection in a constantly changing environment where they must fight fear, grief, exhaustion and lack of reliable information.
In this impossible situation, nurses are key to maintaining quality patient care, supporting health care teams and communicating with patients’ families. Understanding the immense challenges they face in fulfilling these roles is one step we can take toward acknowledging the vital role Florida nurses are playing in helping us survive the COVID-19 crisis.
New Roles and Procedures
The pandemic has increased the need for critical care nurses, putting pressure on new nurses, general nurses, and even retired nurses to take on unfamiliar roles and follow unfamiliar procedures. Can they possibly be given adequate training? Who will support them as they assume new responsibilities? Who will help them as they attempt to save lives while trying to protect their own?
In addition to their already increased workload, experienced critical care nurses are now responsible for training and supervising these new ICU nurses. Do they have the time and resources to provide adequate training? Will they be able to help new ICU nurses adjust to the demands of critical care nursing? Will they be able to handle the extra responsibilities thrusted upon them?
Lack of Resources
The lack of sufficient PPE is a well-documented problem across the U.S. State and local governments, as well as health care systems, have struggled since the early days of the pandemic to obtain the supplies they need to protect their health care workers.
Compounding the problem of insufficient PPE is the problem of insufficient training on how to use it correctly and how to remove it correctly. This is a source of grave anxiety for many nurses, since inappropriate use of PPE and incorrect removal procedures increase the risk of contamination.
Relentless Stress, Fear and Grief
In addition to the relentless stress of new roles, increased workloads and PPE shortages, many nurses and other health care professionals are living in fear of infecting their families. Some are self-isolating in their homes; others are living in RVs or other places away from their families and usual support systems.
Whether isolated or not during the pandemic, Florida nurses are being forced to manage stress, fear and grief while continuing to care for seriously ill patients. They are indeed at high risk of experiencing symptoms of burnout, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues that could affect all aspects of their lives.
Concerns about Professional and Legal Protection
In this unprecedented, high-risk environment, Florida nurses have every reason to be concerned about their health and well-being. They also need to be concerned about professional and legal protections.
As they face the overwhelming challenges related to COVID-19, nurses need to know about Florida state law and whether it mandates that they provide care regardless of the danger it puts them in. They also need to know if, as standards of care shift during the pandemic, their license is protected. In addition, they need to know if they are protected against lawsuits for negligence or malpractice when they are placed in extremely difficult situations, such as working in an area they are unfamiliar with or working without the necessary resources.
Get Legal Help When You Need It
If you need help with any of these concerns, please contact Attorney Jonathan Rose. You deserve answers and strong legal protection. Jonathan Rose has the expertise and experience you need to protect your Florida nursing license and your career during this extremely challenging time.
American Nurses Association. (2020). Nurses, ethics and the response to the COVD-19 pandemic.
Moorehead, L.D., Even, E., & Petrovic, K.D. (2020, April 23). Mental well-being for health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Schwerdtle, N., Connell, P., Lee, C.J., Plummer, V. Russo, P.L., Endacott, R., & Kuhn, L. (2020). Nurse expertise: A critical resource in the COVID-19 pandemic response. Annals of Global Health, 86(1), p.49.