I'm very aware of the real-life staffing problems nurses struggle with every day. But because I'm asked to give advice from a legal viewpoint, I can't ignore the basic assumptions of risk management when responding to a reader's question. If I did, I'd be doing a great disservice to the next nurse who's fired for insubordination for ignoring facility policy, or who someday hears her words turned against her in court.
I commend any nurse who takes steps to report and remedy unsafe conditions in her facility. If she's exhausted administrative remedies and nothing changes, perhaps she should look for an employer who's more responsive to the needs of nurses and patients. Most employers face these dilemmas, but some are more committed to helping nurses practice safely than others.