Nurse staffing have an effect on a variety of areas within nursing. Quality of care is usually affected. Hospitals with low staffing tend to have higher incidence of poor patient outcomes. Martin, (2015) wrote an article on how insufficient nursing staff increases workload and job dissatisfaction, which in effect decreases total patient care over all. When nurse staffing is inadequate, the ability to practice ethically becomes questionable. Time worked, overtime, and total hours per week have significant effect on errors. When nurses works long hours, the more likely errors will be made. He also argued that inadequate staffing not only affects their patients but also their loved ones, future and current nursing staff, and the hospitals in which they are employed. An unrealistic workload may result in chronic fatigue, poor sleep patterns, and absenteeism thus affecting the patients they take care of.
Can you imagine costing a patient their life due to your lack of sleep, long shifts, and working to many hours? Me either. “In 2011, the Joint Commission issued a Sentinel Event Alert to call attention to health care worker fatigue as it relates to patient safety, noting a link between healthcare worker fatigue and adverse events. In addition to patient safety concerns, there is an increased risk of injury in fatigued healthcare workers (Martin, 2015).” Lets explore the dangers of fatigue, and its importance to nurses, way that nurses can prevent fatigue, and possible ways to lower fatigue and enhance sleep. What standards are in place in the nurse practice
Limited attention has been paid to the hours worked by nurses, or the effects of these hours on patient safety (Rogers, 2008). Even though most nurses favor 12- hour shifts and overtime, it is associated with difficulties staying awake during times of duty, reduced sleep times, and triple the risk of making an error (Rogers, 2008). The most significant risk of making an error occurred when nurses were scheduled to work 12.5 hours or more.
Patients in a hospital and/or healthcare facilities have to be cared for all day and all night, everyday of the week by nurses. The usual way to fulfill this need is to divide up the day into three 8-hour shifts. Different shifts have been put into place to help improve nurse satisfaction, decrease the nursing shortage and save the hospital money. The 24-hour day is made up of two 12-hour shifts; 12 hours in the day and 12 hours at night. There has been quite an ongoing debate over the years regarding this issue of nurses working over 8 hours in a single day. Many people, such as hospital nursing administrators, have reason to believe that working long hour shifts causes more errors in
There were 11,516 registered nurses included in the study and factors that were examined included nurse characteristics, work hours, and adverse events and errors (Olds & Clarke, 2010). The results showed that all of the adverse events and errors were related to working extensive hours within a week. The errors that were most reported were medication errors and needle stick injuries. This study, along with other research, confirms that excessive work hours increase the chances of adverse events and errors when caring for patients (Olds & Clarke, 2010). This study also shed light on the problem with voluntary overtime. Even though voluntary overtime is the nurse’s decision; it can still lead to adverse events if the nurse had worked too many hours prior and is fatigued.
Significance: Because nursing is the largest health care profession and nurses provide most of the patient care, and as an acute nurse, I can relate to how unsafe nurse staffing/low nurse-to-patient ratios can have negative impact on patient satisfaction and outcome, can lead to medical and/or medication errors and nurse burnout. It can also bring about anxiety and frustration, which can also clouds the nurses’ critical thinking. Most patients might not know the work load on a particular nurse and can assume that her nurse is just not efficient. Doctors also can become very impatient with their nurses because orders are not being followed through that can delay treatments to their patients. There is also delays in attending to call lights resulting in very unhappy patients who needed help.
The continued shortage of registered nurses will be a catalyst for the increasing stress placed upon practicing nurses now and in the future. Mandatory overtime has been an incessant problem within the nursing profession. When lives are at risk, alertness is a critical part of a nurse’s job performance. Fatigue impairs one’s judgement directly affecting patient and nursing safety or outcomes. This author’s typical six week work schedule consists of eighteen-twelve hour shifts, nine “required” twelve hour call shifts, and three-four hour back-up shifts. A nurse that accepts a patient assignment in the operating room cannot legally or ethically leave when their shift has ended without proper relief. Inevitably, without proper staffing departure is not an
Since the early days of nursing when nurses would work extended shifts and even lived on the wards where they worked, nurse fatigue has been a much discussed issue. During the late 1800s and into the early 1900s, workers spanning several industries fought for the eight hour work day and eventually won with the passage of the US Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938 (Miller, 2011). In the years since then, the extended shift has again become popular, particularly in the field of nursing. Though many nurses and organizations laud twelve hour shifts as beneficial to staffing needs and personal lives, the risks to patient and nurse safety must be considered.
To improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of patient care, applying research and evidence-based practice is necessary. In the Institute of Medicine’s report, Keeping Patient Safe: Transforming the Work Environment of Nurses, there is an emphasis on adequate nurse staffing (Hickey & Brosnan, 2012). Therefore, the quality improvement initiative is to focus on closing the gap between the core staffing and actual staffing in a six-week schedule.
Within the recent years, hospitals and medical facilities have been experiencing nursing shortages that necessitate more nurses to be present to compensate for the care needed to be given. This requires nurses to be dealt with imperative extended work hours along with their normal shifts with no denial or excuse accepted. Working extra hours are accompanied with negative effects that have an impact on the nurse, coworkers, and patients. A major concern that occurs with overtime is that nurses become fatigued or burnout. Fatigue that is experienced is a result of sleep deprivation from working overtime that is associated with arduousness neurobehavioral functioning
Working with the available staff increases the nurses’ workload and the risk for patients’ negative outcomes. Heavy nursing workload adversely affects patient safety and negatively affects nursing job satisfaction (Carayon & Gurses, 2008, p. 1). Furthermore, a study on the hospital nurse shortage and the California legislation about minimum hospital patient-to-nurse ratios concluded that the nurse staffing levels affect patients’ outcomes detrimentally; for each additional patient per nurse was associated with a 7% increase in the likelihood of dying within 30 days of admission and a 7% increase in the odds of failure-to-rescue. In addition, this study concluded that 23% of the nurses were associated with burnout and a 15% increase in job dissatisfaction (Aiken, Clarke, Sloane, Sochalski, & Silber, 2002, p.
Inadequate nurse staffing is commonly cited as a factor in unanticipated hospital events (ANA, 2015), whereas higher staffing levels are related to lower rates of negative patient outcomes (Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act [RNSSA] of 2015, 2015; MN study links nurse staffing to patient outcomes, 2015). For example, inappropriate nurse staffing can result in increased infections such as pneumonia, shock, cardiac arrest, and urinary tract infections (Stanton, 2004), longer hospital stays, medication errors, falls, injuries, and death (ANA, 2015; Stanton, 2004).
The broad research problem leading to this study is the belief that nursing shortage in facilities leads to patient safety issues. The review of available literature on this topic shows strong evidence that lower nurse staffing levels in hospitals are associated with worse patient outcomes. Some of these outcomes include very high patient to nurse ratio, fatigue for nurses leading to costly medical mistakes, social environment, nursing staff attrition from the most affected facilities. The study specifically attempts to find a way to understand how nurse
The risks of making an error were significantly increased when work shifts were longer than twelve hours, when nurses worked overtime, or when they worked more than forty hours per week. (Trossman, 2009). Working longer hours in a high stress area will always increase the error rate. Designating an adequate number of RN positions to ensure nurses work an appropriate schedule without overtime and that their workload allows for breaks. Managerial staff must work to develop specific policies about the length of work times based on the setting, patient and provider needs. Those policies should limit nurses from working more than 12.5 consecutive hours. Provide education for all care providers on the hazards and causes of fatigue. Continue to document unsafe staffing conditions and work with others to change the current work culture so that it recognizes the effects of fatigue on patient safety, as well as the nurse. (Berger, et al. 2006)
One of the many goals of the nursing profession is to provide high-quality, safe patient care. There are many responsibilities that come with a nursing career and when the nurse to patient ratio increases, there is a possibility that it may hinder the safe care that patients deserve, and this may result in negative patient outcomes and level of satisfaction. Staffing is one of the many issues that healthcare facilities face. In many facilities, there never seems to be enough nurses per shift to provide high quality, thorough patient care which often leads to burnt out staff, and frustrated patients and families. This review discusses the findings of quantitative studies and one systematic review that involves patient outcomes in relation to nurse staffing.