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Nurse Staffing and Patient Outcome


Literary works indicate that the staffing of nurses in hospitals influences the patients’ outcomes. Hospitals that ensure effective nurse staffing have shown improved strength of the healthcare systems and patient safety. Although studies have not exhausted the effects of staffing in the healthcare systems, medical professionals should be encouraged to address such issues in an attempt to meet the needs of patients. This essay provides insight into nurse staffing and its effect on patients’ outcomes in healthcare settings.

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Literature Review

Importance of Nurses in the Hospital

Nurses remain in the forefront to ensure that the services they offer to patients are delivered in time. Besides, they ensure the delivery of high-quality healthcare services depending on the conditions of the individual patients in stages that include health promotion, disease prevention, acute care, palliation, and/or rehabilitation. Issues that cover the clinical setting and international nursing scope must be considered for improved patient outcomes.

The Reality of Staffing in Hospitals

Various researchers have examined the correlation between nurse staffing and patient outcomes. For instance, Aiken et al. (2010) reveal an inversely proportional relationship between the lower nurse staffing levels and patient outcomes in aspects such as mortality, rescue, or failure to offer appropriate medical services. Other evidence of drug administration errors, poor care, and increased inpatient time has also been associated with low staffing in healthcare facilities (Shekelle, 2013).

Research conducted by Needleman, Buerhaus, Mattke, Stewart, and Zelevinsky (2011) matched the staffing levels with patient outcomes. The survey revealed a significant level of association between the volume of staffing and mortality of patients due to delayed rescues processes (Needleman et al., 2011). A separate study carried out by Aiken et al. (2014) indicated that a low nurse staff level resulted in an increased rate of patient reduction in the hospital (Aiken et al., 2010). Other surveys have also indicated that high nurse staffing is directly linked with reduced patient stay in the hospital. De Cordova, Phibbs, Schmitt, and Stone (2014) reveal that improved recruitment and training of nurses results in faster delivery of services; hence, more patients spend less time in the hospital.

In most cases, it is difficult to determine the relationship between nurse staffing and patient outcome because human resource managers in hospital settings provide reports for the overall institution rather than the individual departments. Elsewhere, Penoyer (2010) reveals that the staffing of nurses is sometimes specific for 12-month periods instead of specific days. Such tendencies inhibit the process of associating the outcome levels of patients in every care unit with the available nurses (Penoyer, 2010). An example is a situation whereby the high rates of patient mortality in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) on a given day are related to the prevailing level of staffing. It is difficult to conclude from such information due to the absence of staffing data in the ICU units (Blegen, Goode, Spetz, Vaughn, & Park, 2011).

Conclusion and Recommendation

The essay has elaborated on nurse staffing and patient outcome with respect to service delivery. A clear indication of poor service delivery and increased patient among others are associated with low nurse staffing in hospitals. In the wake of increased acuity and complexity of illnesses, healthcare facilities should adopt sufficient staffing mechanisms to ensure that the required numbers of skilled nurses are deployed in an attempt to realize an improved patient outcome.

Reference List

Aiken, L., Sloane, D., Cimiotti, J., Clarke, S., Flynn, L., Seago, J.,…Smith, H. (2010). Implications of the California nurse staffing mandate for other states. Health services research, 45(4), 904-921.

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Blegen, M., Goode, C., Spetz, J., Vaughn, T., & Park, S. (2011). Nurse staffing effects on patient outcomes: safety-net and non-safety-net hospitals. Medical care, 49(4), 406-414.

De Cordova, P., Phibbs, C., Schmitt, S., & Stone, P. (2014). Night and day in the VA: associations between night shift staffing, nurse workforce characteristics, and length of stay. Research in nursing & health, 37(2), 90-97.

Needleman, J., Buerhaus, P., Mattke, S., Stewart, M., & Zelevinsky, K. (2002). Nurse-staffing levels and the quality of care in hospitals. New England Journal of Medicine, 346(22), 1715-1722.

Penoyer, D. (2010). Nurse staffing and patient outcomes in critical care: a concise review. Critical care medicine, 38(7), 1521-1528.

Shekelle, P. (2013). Nurse–patient ratios as a patient safety strategy: A systematic review. Annals of internal medicine, 158(5), 404-409.

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