Slow death of nurses in Iran under unbearable work pressure

A 24-year-old nurse died from a “ruptured aorta” due to fatigue caused by excessive working hours, according to the National Nursing Organization.
The young man, Saeed Alian was a nurse in the medical ward of Emam Reza Hospital of Lar, in the southern Fars Province.

“Damages caused by hard work and lack of medical staff in the nursing sector have caused hidden fatality for many years. Death of the young nurse due to fatigue caused by working in multiple shifts, can be an example of tens and hundreds of deaths of nurses in the country,” the National Nursing Organization said.

In an open letter to Hassan Rouhani, Asghar Dalvandi, the head of the Nursing Organization, recently expressed concern over the officials negligence of the situation of nurses and lack of adequate budget allocation to address their problems.

Seventeen nurses are reported to have died due to overwork, stress and pressure over the past two years, according to the state-run ILNA news agency.

One of the main factors contributing the death of nurses is shortage of nursing staff in hospitals which multiplies the pressure on them.

ILNA quoted Ali Mohammad Adabi, president of the Nursing Organization on February 9, 2018, as saying, “The 17 nurses working at public and private hospitals, were between 25 to 45 years old. They were considered young forces, but all of them had endured tremendous pressure at work before they suddenly die. None of their deaths were due to illness or any other parameter.”

Adabi added, “No action has been taken to complete the hospitals’ nursing staff since the Plan to Change the Health Regime has been implemented. This has forced these people to do heavy overtime work. In addition, economic problems have also compelled nurses to work in other medical centers in addition to their main employer to provide for their living expenses. At any rate, when the number of people referring to a certain public or private medical center increases, it jeopardizes the health of nurses and doctors.”

Nursing is considered as one of the most difficult and harmful jobs in the world. In Iran, nurses do not enjoy any form of support due to mismanagement and plunder of the public wealth by government officials.

In comments carried by the state-run Fars news agency on January 5, 2019, Mohammad Sharifi Moghaddam, deputy director of the National Nursing Organization, revealed parts of the drastic situation of nurses in Iran and their difficult job. He said, “The problems of nurses in Iran must be examined and mismanagement in this field must be rectified.”

Sharifi Moghaddam said, “In many countries, nurses possess safety equipment and they have periodic full checkups, but this is not the case in our country. And nurses in Iran experience incessant pressure. On the other hand, our workforce is one-fourth of the world’s average and we face acute shortage of nursing workforce. This while most of the services in hospitals and health centers are offered by nurses. We have 1.5 nurses in Iran for every 1,000 people, while in Georgia and Tajikestan, there are 6 nurses for every 1,000 patients.”

Sharifi Moghaddam believes that the death of nurses is directly and indirectly related to the work condition, and the number of indirect deaths is higher and many of them are not included in the figures.

It is worth noting that earlier in November, Sharifi Moghaddam had admitted that there are 30,000 unemployed nurses who cannot be recruited due to limited funds and lack of employment license.

Despite at least 30,000 unemployed nurses, “there are only 1.6 nurses attending to every 1,000 patients in Iran,” Sharifi Moghaddam said, adding, “To receive appropriate nursing services every nurse can attend to a maximum of four patients. But the world’s average is six nurses for every 1,000 patients. If we want to have the minimum number of nurses for Iran’s population of 80,000,000, we must have at least 240,000 nurses working across the country while we have only 160,000 nurses busy providing health services and care.”

Meanwhile, according to a report published by ILNA on February 5, 2018, some six thousand nurses are retired every year without begin replaced.

Qouting Maryam Hazrati, deputy for nursing at the Ministry of Health, ILNA reported, “At the same time, the number of hospital beds have increased without hiring new nurses. This has increased the pressure on the existing nurses. While as a rule, for every nurse leaving, one should be employed.”

Hazrati said, “We have about 140,000 nurses working in the country. There is only 0.8 nurse for every bed, while the universal standard is 1.8 nurses per bed. This is a large difference which requires doubling of the number of nurses in the country.”

Hazrati said, “In addition to the nurses who are retired naturally, a large number of nurses retire early due to the difficulty of this job, high volume of work, compulsory and night shifts. Nurses under 30 years of age request early retirement and leave the hospital nursing system. And their numbers are not few.”

  1. Brian says

    Lack of funding I can understand but, lack of employment licenses. What does that mean? Not currently certified, not certified at all or, is it just some sort of beuracratic requirement?

  2. Mahya says

    “lack of employment licenses” means that despite their heavy-duty involving a lot of work, pressure and harms, the majority of nurses in Iran do not have official employment. They work on temporary contracts. They are offered a small salary and even that small salary is not regularly paid.

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