Impact of Inadequate Nurse Staffing on Patients’ Health Risks

Patients’ Health Risks

Poor patient outcomes can be a result of not only errors in diagnosis or the carelessness of doctors. In today’s rapidly-paced society, healthcare professionals are required to perform multiple tasks and manage several patients at the same time. This ultimately leads to burnouts and the turnover of personnel. Inadequate staffing at hospitals increases the likelihood of poor patient outcomes due to the insufficient number of personnel, the heavy workload, and the overall dissatisfaction of nurses. It can be hypothesized that poor staffing leads to lower performance, increased risks for health, and boosted mortality rates.

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The issue of insufficient staffing of nurses has become relevant over the past several decades. Such variables as budget cuts, shortages in personnel, the increased demand for the nursing profession as well as others contribute to the overarching problem of low nurse-to-patient ratios (Carlson, 2017). These ratios place risks on caregivers and patients in terms of the inability to provide preventative measures. In addition, issues arise when performing the assessment of patients’ well-being and ensuring care on a follow-up basis. It is imperative to argue in support of increased staffing ratios due to the variety of extensive and significant outcomes on patients’ health.

1st Pro-Point

In healthcare facilities, low ratios of nurses to patients will lead to the poorer performance of the nursing staff and patient outcomes. According to Cho et al. (2015), inadequate staffing is linked to the decreased effectiveness of assessment and interpretation of patient information. Subsequently, the gaps in data analysis can prevent nurses from making correct conclusions about patients’ well-being and limit their ability to implement preventative measures. These measures are necessary for addressing the healthcare challenges that patients experience in a healthcare setting. The review of the established ratios at facilities is imperative to boost patient outcomes.

2nd Pro-Point

Higher mortality rates at healthcare facilities represent the second adverse outcome of poor staffing ratios. As mentioned by Cho et al. (2015), a low ratio of nurses to patients causes the increased workload and a subsequent 5% increase in higher rates of mortality. These findings were supported by Griffiths et al. (2016) who suggested that low staffing ratios increase mortality rates because of the inability of nurses to ensure the appropriate assessments of risks and their surveillance. In such cases, the likelihood of nurses providing the necessary level of care drops. This is so because they are preoccupied with other tasks that distract them from caring for their patients.

3rd Pro-Point

It can be suggested that better nurse staffing rates are associated with the improvement of patient outcomes and higher rates of survival. The support from scientific research is imperative to mention for supporting the hypothesis. According to McHugh et al. (2016), the adequate rates of nurse staffing increase the tendency of “survival after adverse health conditions (e.g., cardiac arrests) by 16%” (p. 74). In addition, it was found that each patient assigned additionally to a nurse within a medical-surgical unit had a 5% lower likelihood of surviving after experiencing an adverse health condition (McHigh et al., 2016). This points to the need for reevaluating the number of patients assigned to one health practitioner.


In summary, it must be mentioned that inadequate nurse staffing at hospitals, emergency rooms, and other settings leads to decreased health outcomes for patients. Poor nurse-to-patient ratios can result in the decreased performance of caregivers. Also, they can lead to increased mortality rates of patients in healthcare settings as well as decreased survival rates after serious health complications. This points to the reconsideration of the way in which nurse staffing is viewed in modern healthcare facilities. Hospital managers should recognize the need to implement effective measures for ensuring that nurses retain in their positions and are satisfied.


Carlson, K. (2017). Nurse-patient ratios and safe staffing: 10 ways nurses can lead the change. Web.

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Cho, E., Sloane, D. M., Kim, E. Y., Kim, S., Choi, M., Yoo, I. Y.,… Aiken, L. H. (2015). Effects of nurse staffing, work environments, and education on patient mortality: An observational study. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 52(2), 535-542.

Griffiths, P., Ball, J., Drennan, J., Dall’Ora, C., Jones, J., Maruotti, A.,… Simon, M. (2016). Nurse staffing and patient outcomes: Strengths and limitations of the evidence to inform policy and practice. A review and discussion paper based on evidence reviewed for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence Safe Staffing guideline development. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 63, 213-225.

McHugh, M. D., Rochman, M. F., Sloane, D. M., Berg, R. A., Mancini, M. E., Nadkarni, V. M.,… American Heart Association’s Get with The Guidelines-Resuscitation Investigators. (2016). Better nurse staffing and nurse work environments associated with increased survival of in-hospital cardiac arrest patients. Medical Care, 54(1), 74-80.

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"Impact of Inadequate Nurse Staffing on Patients’ Health Risks." StudyCorgi, 15 July 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "Impact of Inadequate Nurse Staffing on Patients’ Health Risks." July 15, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Impact of Inadequate Nurse Staffing on Patients’ Health Risks." July 15, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Impact of Inadequate Nurse Staffing on Patients’ Health Risks." July 15, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Impact of Inadequate Nurse Staffing on Patients’ Health Risks'. 15 July.

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