The problem of inadequate nurse staffing affects nursing practice and health care agencies by impairing the care process. In units with low staffing levels, nurses often experience burnout and high workload, which can lead to medical errors, poor quality of care, and low patient satisfaction with services. As a result, nurse staffing influences patient health outcomes in inpatient units, presenting a critical threat to patient care. This paper will produce a PICOT statement identifying the target population, intervention, comparison, outcome, and time of the proposed project.
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To define a target patient population for the project, it is essential to differentiate between the effects of understaffing on ambulatory and inpatient care. In ambulatory care, patients receive diagnosis and treatment services during one-on-one meetings with care providers. However, in inpatient care, health professionals operate in teams, caring for dozens of patients at once. Hence, low staffing in inpatient care threatens the life and health of patients by reducing the availability of nurses for providing services and assistance and increasing the incidence of medical errors (He, Staggs, Berquist-Beringer, & Dunton, 2016). Focusing on inpatients as part of the project would thus help to improve patient safety and generate notable outcomes.
Increased nurse staffing is the primary intervention that will be considered as part of the project. There are various evidence-based solutions and nursing interventions designed to improve staffing rates. For example, induction programs for new staff are among the most effective tools for promoting retention, which is a significant cause of understaffing (Kurnat-Thoma, Ganger, Peterson, & Channell, 2017). Hospitals should also seek to improve the working conditions of nurses by providing regular rest breaks, adequate organizational support, and rewards for performance. By implementing these solutions, inpatient units will be able to achieve higher nurse staffing ratios and promote better patient outcomes.
The comparison group for the intervention will be inpatients in acute care units who have low nurse staffing rates and did not attempt to implement solutions for understaffing. Comparing the results between the intervention and the control groups will assist in determining the impacts of nurse staffing on patient outcomes. The findings of the research will impact future nursing practice by providing more data on nursing interventions that can be used to address persistent problems, such as understaffing.
Outcome and Time
To assess the influence of the intervention, the project will compare data related to the length of stay, the incidence of patient falls, the number of medical errors, and the rate of infections among inpatients. These patient outcomes can provide comprehensive data on the quality of care provided by nurses and on patient safety in the unit. The time measure for patient outcomes will be set at seven days, but the change process will require between three and four weeks to implement. The implementation time will depend on the type of solution chosen by the unit and its effectiveness in raising staffing levels.
Overall, the proposed project will evaluate the effect of nurse staffing on patient health outcomes in inpatient units. It is anticipated that increased nurse staffing ratios will be associated with improved patient health outcomes. The PICOT question for the research is as follows: “In inpatients in acute care units, does an increased nurse staffing, compared to low staffing rates, improve health outcomes on day 7 of hospitalization?”.
He, J., Staggs, V. S., Bergquist-Beringer, S., & Dunton, N. (2016). Nurse staffing and patient outcomes: A longitudinal study on trend and seasonality. BMC Nursing, 15(1), 60-70.
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Kurnat-Thoma, E., Ganger, M., Peterson, K., & Channell, L. (2017). Reducing annual hospital and registered nurse staff turnover—A 10-element onboarding program intervention. SAGE Open Nursing, 3, 2377960817697712.