Nurse staffing is a complex issue. There are many factors which need to be considered when staffing a nursing unit. Evidence shows an association between Registered Nurses (RNs) having decreased workloads and better patient outcomes, including a decrease in patient mortality (Aiken et al., 2011; Needleman et al, 2011; How Lin, 2013; Patrician et al., 2011; Wiltse-Nicely, Sloane, Aiken, 2013). A small percentage of patients expire during their hospitalization as evidence suggests that a portion of these deaths can be attributed to RN staffing levels (Shekelle, 2013). As the reimbursement system for hospitals today emphasizes quality outcomes, this has an increase in the importance of the nurse’s role in patient care (Frith, Anderson, Tseng, & Fong, 2012). The quality of care is effected when there are higher RN-to-patient ratios. Mortality rates can be decreased by 50% or more when there is a lower RN-to-patient ratio. The morale of nursing staff and the hospital’s reputation are effected when there is a large nurse turnover and poor patient outcomes (Martin, 2015; Knudson, 2013). Having adequate nurse staffing levels saves lives (Martin, 2015). The purpose of this paper is to examine lower RN-to-patient ratios and the effects on patient outcomes. A plan of recommended changes will be presented to address the problem.
Review of Literature
In the review there are seven research articles that look at the effects of nurse staffing levels on patient outcomes. Cho, et al., (2014), looked at 16 hospitals for a total of 700 beds and utilized stratified random sampling along with 1,024 RN questionnaires. The findings are that the work environment for nursing is a signi...
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The effects of hospital nurse staff levels on patient outcomes is critical for an organization. When looking at the solutions for nurse staffing and patient outcomes, there are many complex contributing factors. The correct staffing mix which involves having a ratio of more RNs to support staff is needed on a unit for quality patient outcomes. The acuity of a patient is important as is work load-leveling for a nurse. Adequate time is needed to provide quality care for each patient. An organization may need to spend more money to provide a staffing mix of more RNs on a given shift, though this outweighs the consequences and expense of a poor outcome. The ultimate goal of any hospital is to provide patients with safe, quality care which can be accomplished through increasing the RN-to-patient rations, staffing by acuity and work-load leveling.
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