The Cost of Exclusive Duty Nurses and the Satisfaction of Patients’ Relatives with the Care Provided

Background: The concept of exclusive duty nurses is a phenomenon, found only in Greece. This phenomenon raised about the early 80’s as a result of shortage in nursing personnel. The use of the exclusive duty nurses consists a high cost for the Greek patients while the care they offer, seems to be of low quality. Aim: The valuation of the cost for Greece in order to use exclusive duty nurses as well as the necessity for the existence of this phenomenon. Method: The study was conducted from January to December 2006 in a big (620 beds) hospital of Attica, Greece. The sample was consisted of 87 exclusive duty nurses caring for patients during this period of time and 325 patients’ relatives. Semi-structured interview was used for collecting patients’ relatives’ opinions while information was gathered from nursing files as well. Descriptive statistics were used for the Statistical analysis that was carried out using SPSS (Statistical package for Social Sciences) for Windows. Results: During 2006, 6,918 patients were admitted at the hospital hospitalized for at least one day. Eighty seven exclusive duty nurses, (mean: 3 working days) engaged during all 3 working shifts (whereas the majority of them were working night shift) having a total cost of 1.720.589,06 €. The majority (64.6%, n=210) of patients’ relatives stated that they asked for these nurses because of family and professional obligations, while 23.7% (n=77) mentioned the shortage in nursing personnel. Half of them (50.2%, n=163) were not at all satisfied of the provided care by the exclusive duty nurses for different reasons such as patients falls from the bed or lack of hygiene measures. On the other hand, only 8.6% (n=28) of them were very satisfied. Conclusions: The cost proved to be very high. On the contrary, care offered by the exclusive care nurses is quite insufficient, causing many problems to patients. This problem may be solved by the recruitment of appropriately educated and specialized nursing personnel by the Greek Government.