191232 Nurse Staffing: Key To Good Patient, Nurse and Financial outcomes

Monday, October 27, 2008: 4:50 PM

Lynn Unruh, PhD, RN, LHRM , Department of Health Administration, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL
As nurse staffing in hospitals remains tight due to the nursing shortage and financial belt tightening, maintaining adequate staffing remains a challenging, yet critical, aspect of health care delivery for three important stakeholders: patients, nurses, and hospitals.

In the study presented in this session, the author discusses the concept and measurement of the “adequacy” of nurse staffing. Based on empirical knowledge and theory, a conceptual model is developed that shows the interrelationships between inadequate staffing (and excessive workloads), and patient, nurse, and financial outcomes. Findings from a systematic literature review emphasize the importance of nurse staffing in relation to patient care quality and safety, staff satisfaction and health, and financial performance. Higher nurse staffing is associated with lower rates of patient adverse events and deaths, and shorter patient lengths of stay. There is also evidence that better nurse staffing and balanced workloads are related to better health and job satisfaction of nurses. Finally, some studies are beginning to show that adequate nurse staffing is good for the financial performance of hospitals.

The author concludes that we must pay attention to the research on nurse staffing, and to the voices of nurses as they continue to declare their workloads to be too high. We must consider the impact of changes in patient care environments and technologies on nurse staffing levels and workloads. The innovations should maintain good workloads or reduce heavy workloads, and their costs should be weighed against the foregone improvement in the nursing staff.

Learning Objectives:
1) Define Measures and concepts used in assessing the adequacy of nurse staffing. 2) Describe a conceptual model of the inter-relationships between nurse staffing and patient, nurse, and financial outcomes. 3) Summarize the findings from the literature on the impacts of nurse staffing on patient, nurse and financial outcomes. 4) Discuss organizational, research, and policy issues related to nurse staffing.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: THere is no conflict of interest. Am an associate professor in the Department of Health Management and Informatics at the University of Central Florida, and am a Licensed Healthcare Risk Manager with a Ph.D. who is also an RN.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.