As part of CBC's national health series Rate My Hospital, the majority of 740 registered nurses who responded to a survey about their experiences on the job in Alberta say they are overworked and burnt out.
While 81 per cent of respondents said they would definitely or probably recommend their hospital, they also had some serious concerns.
Daphne Wallace has been an RN for 38 years. She spent the last 22 years on the neurosurgery unit at Foothills hospital.
"I've worked many, many 12-hours shifts where I've showed up at work around 7 o'clock in the evening and I've not gotten out of there until 7:30 the next morning and I have not had a break," she said.
On some nights staffing shortages leave her with nearly double the patient load she should have, she said.
Workload a common concern
"We take great pride in the quality of care that we deliver, but I think it comes at a great cost to staff," she said. "And I do believe that the potential for harm to patients is higher."
Watch the fifth estate's full Rate My Hospital report on Friday at 9 p.m. ET.
Roughly 65 per cent of the Alberta RNs who took part in CBC's survey say there isn't enough staff for them to do their jobs properly.
"When you don't address those issues, then the chance of infection, hospital-borne pneumonias, urinary tract infections, mortalities increase," said Karen Craik with the United Nurses of Alberta.
For nurses — who often don't have time to perform simple tasks like changing dressings or IV lines — the stakes are high.
About 60 per cent of survey respondents also said their jobs are either quite or extremely stressful, and more than 40 per cent identify as having a high or very high degree of burnout.
Dianne Dyer, president of the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta, says steps must be taken to address the staff shortage issue.
"We do know there’s a direct relationship between staff satisfaction, staffing shortages, the burnout issue and patient outcomes. And there’s lot of research to support that," she said.
"We cannot continue to say that there’s enough staff, that we’re going to be fine."