The economic impact on healthcare has taken its toll on the number of registered nurses providing bedside care to patients, compromising patient safety and dramatically increasing the potential for negative outcomes. Several factors have immensely contributed to the nursing shortages over the years, including healthcare organizations downsizing, increased workloads, inadequate staffing plans and job dissatisfaction. Mandated nurse-to-patient staffing ratios have been implemented in several states to date with many more trying to pass some type of legislation. Have these ratios affected the quality of care or is it more realistic to create staffing committees that are based on each unit’s unique situation and varying requirements?
They found that the lower the nurse-to-patient ratio the fewer the negative patient outcomes. At the conclusion of her research, Curtin noted that a ratio between 4 and 6 patients per nurse gave acceptable results in patient outcomes (Curtin, 2008).
For over a decade researchers have been performing studies examining the effects patient-to-nurse ratios have on adverse outcomes, mortality rates, and failure-to-rescue rates of patients and on job dissatisfaction and burnout experiences of nurses. Aiken, Sloane, Sochalski, and Silber (2002) performed a study which showed that each additional patient per nurse increased patient mortality within 30 days of admission by 7% and increased failure-to-rescue by 7% as well. This same study also showed that each additional patient per nurse resulted in a 23% increase in nurse burnout and a 15% increase in job dissatisfaction. Additionally, Rafferty et al. (2007) performed a study in which the results showed that patients in hospitals with higher patient-to-nurse ratios had a 26% higher mortality rate and nurses were twice as likely to have job dissatisfaction and experience burnout. Blegen, Goode, Spetz, Vaughn, and Park (2011) performed a study where results showed that more staffing hours for nurses resulted in lower rates of congestive heart failure morality, infection, and prolonged hospital stays. The same study also showed that increased nursing care from registered nurses resulted in lower infection and failure to rescue rates and fewer cases of sepsis.
The purpose of this article is to discuss appropriate nurse staffing and staffing ratios and its impact on patient care. Although the issue is just not about numbers as we discuss staffing we begin to see how complex the issue has become over the years. Many factors can affect appropriate nurse staffing ratios. As we investigate nurse staffing ratios we can see the importance of finding the right mix and number of nurses to provide quality care for patients.
Current nurse-to-patient ratios is a topic that has constant focus on today’s patient outcomes and safety. There have be many studies and there continues to be studies done on how a higher nurse to patient ratio effects not only patient and nurse safety and patient outcomes once they leave the hospital, but also patient mortality rates as well. When a nurse has been assigned more of a patient load than they can safely handle, whether it be because of a large patient volume or patient acuity, patients suffer and the quality of care declines. With the higher ratio,
Providing the best care to each patient starts with providing the proper amount of staff members to each unit. Looking at the needs of different units not only allows administration to see areas for improvement, but also areas that are being handled correctly. Utilizing the indicators provided by The Joint Commission, 4 East, a pediatric medical/surgical floor, has a high rate of falls and nosocomial pressure ulcers that appears to be related to the increase overtime nurses have been working for that floor (Nightingale, 2010). Research has shown increases in adverse events have been related to nurses working over 40 hours a week (Bae, 2012).
Mandatory staffing ratios have been suggested as a way to meet nursing staffs’ concerns of high nurse to patient ratios. Mandatory staffing ratios are used as a way to reduce workload and patient mortality and are aimed at addressing the perceived imbalance between patient needs and nursing resources. (American Nursing Association, 2014). However, issues have been raised on applicability of staffing ratios since it could lead to increased costs without the guarantee of improvement in the quality of health care and could also lead to unintended consequences including unit closures, limited infrastructural development and limited access by patients (American Nursing Association, 2014).
A continuous concern that continues to present itself within the healthcare environment is adequate staffing on nursing units. Most hospital organizations try their very best to accommodate staffing needs, though many units remain understaffed for an unspecified amount of time. Inadequate staffing can negatively affect patient outcomes, lead to nurse burnout, and decrease patient satisfaction scores. Combating this issue will require a great deal of effort, as many geographical face nursing shortages when seeking new graduates and qualified candidates. Employees may begin to feel that they are unable to pursue personal goals within a healthcare organization, due to inability to transfer as a result of staffing shortages. This often results in nursing seeking employment or career advancement outside of the organization or geographical area, which further intensifies ramification associated with inadequate staffing.
When was the last time you were in the hospital or a loved one was in the hospital, and ever wondered where the nurse is, and they haven 't returned for hours. You finally push the assistance button several times, and they open the door and hurriedly say, “I will be right back”, then you don 't see them for a while again. When they come back to check up on you, you explain to them what you need, and then they send in a less qualified staff member to assist you. At this point, you become very annoyed and frustrated not to mention scared to be admitted in the hospital to begin with. Little do you know, your nurse has ten other patients and other non-nursing tasks that they are responsible taking care of. They have been working a double shift and are extremely exhausted, and a large stack of charts that they will have to do before their shift is over. As a patient, you now become frustrated and are not happy about this; as a nurse, they are just as frustrated as you are, not only because the amount of work they have but more importantly they can 't deliver the appropriate care they long to give. For most hospitals they do not hire enough registered nurses for reasons that are good and bad. This is an issue that needs to be addressed not only locally but nationally and on a constant basis. When there are too many patients for one registered nurse to attend to, nurses become exhausted, mistakes are made, and patients are unsatisfied. A minimum nurse to patient ratio needs to be
Determining nurse-to-patient ratios in nursing facilities remains a challenge for the nursing profession. Two main staffing methods that are currently used in most nursing facilities are staffing by patient acuity using patient classification systems and staffing by mandated nurse-to-patient rations. Each method has an impact on patient outcomes, safety and overall satisfaction determined from different articles and studies done on each staffing method. There are pros and cons to each staffing methods. Nursing facilities look at many of these pros and cons when determining staffing methods that are used, cost, patient outcomes, nursing satisfaction and
In recent years, the healthcare industry has seen a significant decline in the quality of patient care it provides. This has been the result of reduced staffing levels, overworked nurses, and an extremely high nurse to patient ratio. The importance of nurse staffing in hospital settings is an issue of great controversy. Too much staff results in costs that are too great for the facility to bear, but too little staffing results in patient care that is greatly hindered. Moreover, the shaky economy has led to widespread budget cuts; this, combined with the financial pressures associated with Medicare and private insurance companies have forced facilities to make due with fewer
Staffing needs affect the nursing department’s budget, staff productivity, the quality of care provided to patients and even the retention of nurses (Jooste, 2013). The nurse manager has to explain to the management of the benefits of change in providing adequate staffing all the time. Adequate staffing helps staff retention. Staff retention saves a lot of money in terms of orienting new people to the unit. Safe staffing always helps in the reduction of falls, infection rates, pressure ulcers, decrease hospital stays and death. Flexible and creative scheduling is essential for retaining staff and promoting a positive work climate (Grohar-Murray & Langan, 2011). Adequate staffing with good staffing ratio will help nurses to concentrate on their patient care which may help in a reduction in medical errors and lawsuits to the hospital.
Nurse staffing and how it relates to the quality of patient care has been an important issue in the field of nursing for quite some time. This topic has been particularly popular recently due to the fact that there is an increasing age among those who make up the Baby Boomer era in the United States. There will be a greater need for nurse staffing to increase to help accommodate the higher demand of care. Although nursing is “the top occupation in terms of job growth,” there are still nursing shortages among various hospitals across America today. The shortage in nurses heavily weighs on the overall quality of care that each individual patient receives during their hospital stay (Rosseter, 2014).