When it comes tohealthcare, hospital nurse staffing should be of major concern because of the effects it can have on patient safety andquality of care. As healthcare professionals, we can all agree that patient safety is our main focus.
Thereare many preventative measures in place for patient safety. For example, two identifiers mustalways be used to ensure the right patient is receiving the right treatment. Mistakes are inevitable,but if proper safety tools are used with every patient and every encounter it could result inminimization of errors. Another way to ensure patient safety is adequate staffing. Studieshave proven that safe nursing ratios save lives. There are a series ofstudies in which a documented connection exists between improved nurse staffing and safer care. In 2016 there was a studyby nursing researcher Linda Aiken in which data was collected from thousands of nurses inover 100 hospitals in six countries and thousands of patients in over 100 of the same hospitals.
The study suggested that with each 10 percentage point reduction in the proportion of professionalnurses, there was an 11 percent increase in the odds of patient death. Another study inthe Journal of Advanced Nursing suggested that preventing understaffing was criticalin improving the quality of care for hospitalized patients while simultaneously providingcost savings to the hospital, patients, and the community, given that adverse events were estimatedto increase costs by $8,000 per admission and lengthen the stay by seven toeight days on average. Nursestaffing has been an ongoing issue for decades, and continues to be an issuefor many healthcare facilities. The reality is thatpatient safety is jeopardized when staffing is inadequate. A mandatory, non-negotiable limit to thenumber of patients a nurse can care for is needed to protect patients from harm. In an attempt tosave money, hospitals provide the minumum staff required, which actually results in lostincome as patients have longer hospital stays due to preventable diseases which result innon-payment from medicare. According to the American Nurses Association, without appropriatestaffing, patients risk longer hospital stays, increased infections, avoidable medication errors,falls, injuries, and even death. Safe staffing has beenproven to directly improve patient outcomes in California, where safe staffing has been incorporated since the early2000s.
Patient satisfaction is a key indicator of quality care. Hospitals with higher nurse staffinghave less adverse outcomes therfore, improving quality of care and patient satisfaction. Properstaffing can also have a positive impact on nurse retention rates as nurses would experience lessburnout and less job dissatisfaction.