Nurse Shortage and Its Effect on Health Care Essay

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Policy problem and goal: The quality of health care provided by nurses at hospital facilities has always been a point of controversial discussion in the United States (US), and even more so with the decline in the availability of qualified nurses and an increase in nurses that are overworked. The US, often referred to as a mecca for its world class hospitals and patient care facilities, is facing the worst shortage of qualified nurses in its history. Most hospitals in the nation are running on reduced nursing staff and often have to overwork their nursing staff to meet the demands of patient care. Research has shown that by reducing the number of nurses, patient outcomes deteriorate and length of stay increases (Garretson, 2004). Reducing nurse staffing can lead to overworked nurses, low staff morale, less patient satisfaction, and errors and more malpractice suits, which can raise the costs much more than hiring more nurses (Garretson). Even when hospitals do plan to increase their nursing staff levels, they are unable to do so because increasing nursing staff levels is not an easy task. Major factors contributing to lower staffing levels include a nationwide gap between the number of available positions and the number of registered nurses (RNs) qualified and willing to fill them. The acute shortage of nurses is making it difficult for hospitals to fill RN positions and a study found that 44% of hospital recruiters had more difficulty filling in positions in 2006 than in 2005 (AHA, 2007). The nursing shortage is a major obstacle in health care industry today that threatens to decrease nurses productivity, efficiency, competency, quality, etc and in turn increase fatigue, burnout, nurse-to-patient ratios, etc. The goal of this paper is to discuss practice innovations that can improve the quality of health care and suggest practice interventions against those

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