Registered nurses have long acknowledged and continue to emphasize that staffing issues are an ongoing concern, one that influences the safety of both the patient and the nurse. There is a strong relationship between adequate nurse-to-patient ratios and safe patient outcomes. Rising patient acuity and shortened hospital stays has contributed to challenges. Finding an optimal nurse-to-patient ratio has been a national challenge. However, rising patient acuity and shortened hospital stays have contributed to recent challenges. Ensuring adequate staffing levels has been shown to:
- Reduce medical and medication errors
- Decrease patient complications
- Decrease mortality
- Improve patient satisfaction,
- Reduce nurse fatigue
- Decrease nurse burnout
- Improve nurse retention and job satisfaction
Health care leaders have an opportunity to create innovative strategies through a collaborative effort and to develop solutions that will build a safer environment for patients and registered nurses. Adequate staffing solutions require leadership support and recognition to assure an appropriate number and skill mix of registered nurses who are able to deliver safe quality patient care.
An optimal staffing model requires an approach that recognizes unique patient care settings during specific times of day and must assess:
- Patient Acuity
- Unlicensed assistive personnel
- Skills, education, and training within specific settings
Implications for practice: Adequate staffing is essential in order to provide optimal patient care. Innovative and collaborative strategies that focus on developing long-term solutions will improve the quality of patient care outcomes.