Everyday, healthcare workers across the country worry about rising nurse-to-patient ratios. In general, nurses across the country are being asked to care for more patients at a time, and healthcare facilities are left to deal with this growing problem.
In most cases, individual healthcare facilities have the ability to set their own safe staffing standards. Currently, 14 U.S. states have safe staffing laws per the American Nurses Association. However, in 13 of those states, the laws only require there to be a general plan in place to manage the ratio as opposed to regulate it. The outlier, California, became the first state to pass a law mandating an average nurse-to-patient ratio in 2004. Their standard is one nurse for every five patients on average in medical-surgical units.
This has let to more states recognizing how important safe nurse staffing levels are to both patient care and the success of the nursing field. A new wave of support behind state- and federally-mandated nurse staffing minimums is sweeping across the country.
Why is Nurse-to-Patient Ratio Important?
A balanced nurse-to-patient ratio can lead to many positive outcomes. Nurses, patients, and even healthcare facilities have experienced success when using a safe nurse staffing method.
When nurses have fewer patients to care for at one time, they’ve shown higher levels of job satisfaction. A study published by labor union AFL-CIO showed that, in contrast to nurses studied in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, California nurses felt their workload was reasonable and led to providing better care. They also reported receiving adequate support services, such as nursing assistants. They even had time to take quick breaks during their shift.
When nurses are without this support and feel unreasonable expectations placed upon them, they could experience a phenomenon known as nurse burnout. In 2018, as many as 62 percent of nurses felt symptoms of burnout in their jobs, according to the RN Network (Cornwall, 2018). Nurses suffering from burnout have a harder time providing quality patient care and often report strained relationships at work.
The quality of patient care decreases as the number of patients in a nurse’s care increases. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that unsafe staffing levels were “associated with increased mortality” for patients
Aside from risk to the patient, satisfaction is a concern as well. Where nurse-to-patient ratios weren’t effectively balanced, patients reported viewing nursing staff and the facilities where they worked poorly. Research published in the BMJ noted that patients’ thoughts on their care in a hospital were associated with nurse staffing and quality of care
For Healthcare Facilities
It may not seem like it, but employing more nurses can actually be cost effective for healthcare facilities. A study published in Medical Care found that hiring more nurses and having a lower nurse-to-patient ratio shortened hospital stays for patients and helped save in medical costs. In cases where facilities cannot hire more staff, supplemental staffing services are even better.
As mentioned above, quality-nursing care also improves the overall perception of a hospital facility, as well as outcomes for the patients. The better nursing care provided, the better the perception of the facility.
What You Can Do About Safe Staffing
Even in an adequately staffed hospital, there could still be days with an imbalanced nurse-to-patient ratio. A nurse could call out sick or more patients than normal could be admitted. In either case, a higher nurse-to-patient ratio means that nurses have to step up to the challenge of caring for more patients.
At Nurzee, we have been working hard to make medical staffing easy. Our founder has been keen on innovating new tools and software to help healthcare workers; facilities and supplemental staffing agencies carry out safe staffing.
We encourage healthcare workers to use our careCard online resume to help them get jobs they will love, which goes a long way to improve attendance.
Healthcare facilities could also use our careCard system to hire the right staff, and our VMS system to improve retention as well as staffing ratios.
Staffing agencies and other supplemental staffing service provides can use our VMS to place staff, which will also go a long way to decrease high nurse-patient ratios.
Being active in finding a solution to rising nurse-to-patient ratios could make the difference at your hospital and in your community. If you’re looking to make a positive impact, call Nurzee today and check out our software. With a streamlined VMS, our company goes a long way to provide jobs to healthcare workers as well as keep healthcare facilities in business. We promise to continue to do every thing we can to keep everyone in the medical staffing industry happy. If you will like to learn more about our services, call or email us at : +1 (763) 400-3862 | [email protected]