The Impact of Nurse Staffing on Hospital Costs and Patient Length of Stay – Health System Example

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"The Impact of Nurse Staffing on Hospital Costs and Patient Length of Stay" is an excellent example of a paper on the health system. The nursing shortage is a global problem that, if not checked, is fast spreading to levels where it will no longer be managed. The nursing profession is least understood by many in the world, even those who are considered the most educated. In most cases, it is a profession that is taken for granted, with nurses having to work in conditions that can only be considered to be inhospitable for them.

What many governments and policymakers fail to understand is the fact that nurses are a crucial factor in the healthcare system and that without them; this system will most likely collapse. Nurses are needed in the care for individuals in hospitals as well as the general population of the world because of their unique ability not only to save the lives of their patients but also for improving their outcomes. When one considers the current situation, it can be said that the public misunderstanding of exactly what nurses do has mainly caused the shortage.

In most cases, the public holds to take the duties that nurses perform for granted, giving more importance to doctors than to nurses. This has given rise to the notion that the nursing profession is not important, therefore influencing the decision of many people who would have gone into the profession to choose other professions that are deemed to be more important. The shortage can be said to be caused by three main factors which include poor working conditions, limited funding available for research, and finally, the short staffing in hospitals. The nursing profession has been taken for granted for a long time and it is only recently that its importance has come to be recognized as a shortage has developed.

This shortage in the number of nurses in hospitals has created a situation where there is understaffing meaning that the available nurses have to work long hours (Mee and Robinson, 2003). These long hours have a tendency of taking a toll on the physical and mental wellbeing of the nurses involved and may lead to a reduction in their performance levels.

This reduction in their performance means that the well-being of their patients is placed in jeopardy since some of them may require more attention from the nurses in order to make a quick recovery. A nursing shortage, therefore, creates a situation where patients are not provided with the best healthcare available and this is mainly due to the low nurse to patient ratio that the shortage creates. If this shortage is not countered with efficient policies, then it will most likely end up costing the health systems of many countries dear.

This is because of the fact that without nurses, there will be a low patient outcome since the patients will not be receiving the care they need to recover effectively. Furthermore, as the aging population continues to increase and the demand for nurses also increases, there is the possibility that the mortality rate of the human population will be quite high in the coming years (“ Critical care medicine” , 2002). The nursing shortage has dire implications on the future of the nursing profession and among these is the possibility that in the future, there may be a shortage of teachers to teach the new generation of nurses.

This is mainly because the number of experienced nurses available to guide the younger generation of nurses into the profession will be extremely low. This will create a situation where it will be impossible for nurses to work effectively most of their action will be done through trial and error, ensuring that the patient outcome remains low. The future of this profession is quite bleak because it has for a long time been associated with women, who in modern times have a wide range of career options open to them.

This means that the idea of nursing as the premier professional option for women is fast fading away. It is therefore prudent for healthcare policymakers to make the profession more attractive to the younger generation through improving the working conditions, providing enough funds for education and research, and in this economically motivated world, ensuring that nurses are given salaries that are decent (Fox and Abrahamson, 2009). For many years, the adequate staffing of nurses has been linked to the positive outcomes of patients.

It has been noticed that nurse staffing has an effect on the length in which patients stay in hospital as well as the efficiency of their treatment. Adequate nurse staffing in hospitals has the outcome of decreasing the duration of patients’ hospital stay (Thungjaroenkul, et al, 2007). It has also been found that there is a decrease in the number of medical errors made concerning patients. Furthermore, adequate staffing also has an impact on nurses because they become more motivated in their work, which increases their efficiency.

This efficiency helps the patient as it improves the care, which they are given, and this leads to the patient’ s swift recovery. Adequate nurse staffing in hospitals reduces the patients’ mortality rates because they have the full attention of the nurses throughout their convalescence (Needleman, et al, 2002). It is, therefore, important for hospitals to ensure that they have adequate nurse staffing so that only the best possible care can be provided for patients. Moreover, with a balanced nurse to patient ratio, the patients’ hospital stay will be reduced, meaning that more attention will be given to the remaining patients. In conclusion, it is a fact that the nurse-staffing shortage does indeed have an impact on the quality of care that patients receive.

If the ratio between nurses and patients is well balanced, then the patients will have the best care and their recovery will be quite swift. However, if there are fewer nurses in relation to the patients they serve, then the latter will have very poor service.

In fact, their recovery rate will be very low while their mortality rate will go up significantly. Nurse staffing should always be given priority when dealing with matters concerning healthcare to ensure that services of good quality are provided for patients.

References

“Critical care medicine; workforce shortage, aging population strain ICUs”. (2002). Health & Medicine Week, 4-4.

Fox, R. L., PhD., & Abrahamson, K. (2009). A critical examination of the U.S. nursing shortage: Contributing factors, public policy implications. Nursing Forum, 44(4), 235-44.

Mee, C. L., & Robinson, E. (2003). What's different about this nursing shortage? Nursing, 33(1), 51-5.

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

Thungjaroenkul, P., Cummings, G. G., & Embleton, A. (2007). The impact of nurse staffing on hospital costs and patient length of stay: A systematic review. Nursing Economics, 25(5), 255-65.

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