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Iran: One Nurse per 25 Patients

The coronavirus has taken the lives of over 412,700 people throughout Iran
The coronavirus has taken the lives of over 412,700 people throughout Iran

The deputy head of Iran’s nursing organization says that in the fifth wave of the coronavirus in some hospitals, on average each nurse has been responsible for caring for 25 patients. Iran’s nursing home secretary says: “Lack of attention to nursing has put us at the top of the death toll of nurses due to the coronavirus.”

The ‘shortage of nurses’ and the big distance between Iran and the statistics, figures, and international standards in the field of nursing is nothing new, but news published two days ago related to the fifth wave of the coronavirus, cannot be easily ignored: ‘From some provinces and cities, we get reports that 25 patients are seen to by one nurse.’

Azizi, deputy director of development and resource management at the Nursing Organization, said that ‘in some wards, 15 critically ill patients were dealt with by one nurse, and this is a tragedy.’

An Iran observer who wished to remain anonymous said: “Isn’t this a healthcare disaster? If human lives and their health depend on standard conditions or at least close to standard, then what is the name of this situation in Iran’s health care, such as this disaster of one nurse for 25 patients?”

Mohammad Sharifi Moghadam, Secretary-General of Iran Nursing Home, said: “The world standard status is 4 nurses per bed. What the Ministry of Health considered is the lowest standard in the country which is 2.5 nurses per bed. But even this is not observed, and now the national average is 0.9 percent.”

But it is not bad to pay attention to another category of statistics and standardization, under which Iran is in a very unpleasant situation.

Mohammad Sharifi Moghadam said: “The advanced world measures standardizations based on nurses relative to population. The reason for this is that having a high number of ‘hospital beds’ is not something to be proud of, because when you have too many beds, you have a lot of patients.

“Therefore, it is better to measure the nurse in a wise ratio in proportion to the number of populations. In this situation, we have 3 levels of categorization.

“The low level that 3 nurses per thousand people, the average level that 5 to 6 nurses per thousand people and the developed level that 9 to 10 nurses per thousand people predicted that a country like Belgium has now implemented 11 nurses per thousand for itself.

“Now, according to the latest statistics in 2017 in our country, about four years ago, it was 1.5 nurses per thousand people, while about 2,000 to 3,000 people retire and leave the system every year.”

The result of this inattention and incompetence in the field of nursing and treatment is that according to official statistics 140 nurses died during the coronavirus period, which compared to the global statistics of other countries Iran has the highest number of nurses killed during this outbreak.

Now let us compare this with the UK Critical Nursing Alliance (UKCCNA) standards published in January 2021:

“Nurse-patient ratios

We set out our position on bedside nurse: patient ratios during COVID-19 Wave 2 in our November 2020 statement, based on research evidence and experience from Wave 1. The UKCCNA firmly believe patient safety and staff well-being will be best secured if ratios are maintained at a minimum of one trained critical care nurse (TCCN)* and one registered healthcare professional** for two levels 3 patients (compared with the normal 1:1 ratio2,3), and one TCCN with the one registered healthcare professional for every four levels 2 patients (compared to the normal 1:2 ratio2,3) as set out in National pandemic workforce guidance documents, such as that published by NHSE.4.”

Standard conditions define one nurse for a critically ill patient. What if a nurse is going to deal with three critically ill patients?

The result can be pictured easily; just consider the extremely high number of coronavirus deaths in Iran, which has put the country at the top of the global pandemic death rate.