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The Importance of Nurse Staffing and Patient Safety

We're all used to hearing “we need more nurses,” but do we really recognize the significance of that statement? Nurses are the largest group of Healthcare Professionals in the nation. Unfortunately, when medical facilities are understaffed it impacts patient safety and creates unsafe working conditions.

By not providing the appropriate amount of nurses or enforcing proper qualifications, you increase the risk of medical errors, underperforming staff, longer hospital stays, patient readmissions and death.

Supplying sufficient staff and decreasing nurse overload could increase safety and eliminate error.

According to Alexandra Robbins’ recent op-ed article by The New York Times, studies have found that the more patients assigned to a nurse, the higher the patients’ risk of death, infections, complications, falls, failure-to-rescue rates and readmission to the hospital — and the longer their hospital stay.

Data collected from a recent survey of nurses sponsored by The Massachusetts Nurses Association, resulted in:

  • 25 percent saying understaffing was directly responsible for patients deaths
  • 50 percent blaming understaffing for harm or injury to patients
  • 85 percent stating that patient care is suffering because of the high numbers of patients assigned to each nurse

While some nurses are well aware of these problems, many hospital administrators have conflicting views. Experts believe administrators assume these studies do not apply to them and place fault on individuals, not the system, for negative outcomes.

“They mistakenly believe their staffing is adequate. It’s a vicious cycle. When they’re understaffed, nurses are required to cut corners to get the work done the best they can. Then when there’s a bad outcome, hospitals fire the nurse for cutting corners.”

Judy Smetzer, the vice president of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices

In terms of addressing these problems, we need to push for change. Pamela F. Cipriano, president of the American Nurses Association, states that the ANA supports the Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act, which requires hospitals with the input of beside nurses, to establish nurse staffing plans for each care unit and nursing shift, based on ever-changing patient needs. This should help improve patient outcome, keep nurses at beside and help maintain a safer work environment.

At Advantage, we believe nurses have valuable insights that need to be taken seriously. Please call or email to share your thoughts or become part of our team of expert nurses.

Call Advantage Medical Professionals 504.456.0073

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