Essay on The Impact of Nurse Staffing on Patient Outcomes

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The Impact of Nurse Staffing on Patient Outcomes Kelly Adams McCann Drexel University The Impact of Nurse Staffing on Patient Outcomes When my daughter was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) 11 years ago, I was I was blissfully ignorant of patient-to-nurse ratios and budget constraints. I had confidence in the competence of the nurses and believed that they had the time and the tools necessary to care for my child. Now that I'm a nurse myself and I see my support staff numbers cut and my patient load rise, I wonder what my patients and their families think of me. In an age when we are all being asked to do more with less, nurse staffing levels are no different. The business of medicine is just that, a business, and…show more content…
Multiple studies demonstrate a relationship between lower patient-to-nurse ratios and improved patient outcomes (Garrett, 2008; Penoyer, 2010; Unruh, 2008). Patient outcomes addressed in the various studies included falls, infections, length of stay, mortality, patient safety, patient satisfaction, postoperative complications, pressure ulcers, quality of care and unplanned extubation with reintubation. A 2004 report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) stated that adverse events can increase the cost of a total treatment by 84%, length of stay by 5.1 to 5.4 days and probability of death by 4.67% to 5.5% (Garrett, 2008). This is a sobering statistic: “the odds of a patient dying in hospitals with an average workload of 8 patients per nurse are 1.26 times greater than in hospitals where the mean workloads of 4 patients per nurse” (Aiken, Clarke, Sloane, Lake & Cheney, 2008). A rubber band can only stretch so far before it breaks. It would follow that attempts to improve patient care must address adequate patient-to-nurse ratios and workload. If we know that adequate staffing levels will improve patient outcomes, how do we get there? Are mandated patient-to-nurse ratios the answer? The people of the state of California thought so in 2004, with the passage of Bill
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