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 would result inminimization of errors. Another way to ensure patient safety is adequate staffing. Studieshave proven time and time again that safe nursing ratios save lives. Series of studies areavailable that document a connection between improved nursestaffing and safer care. A study led by nursingresearcher Linda Aiken in 2016 gathered data from 13,077 nurses in 243 hospitals in six countriesand 18,828 patients in 182 of the same hospitals.
The study suggested that with each 10percentage point reduction in the proportion of professional nurses, there was an 11 percent increasein the odds of patient death. Another study in the Journal of Advanced Nursing also found thatpreventing understaffing was critical in improving the quality of care for hospitalizedpatients while simultaneously providing cost savings to the hospital, patients, and the community,given that adverse events were estimated to increase costs by $8,000 per admission and lengthenthe stay by seven to eight 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.