Nurse Staffing and Patient Outcomes

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Nurse Staffing and Patient Outcomes
With health care reform becoming a main emphasis for the nation, hospitals are finding it more difficult to staff their nursing units in ways that promotes quality and is also cost effective. Typically, a hospital spends over 60% on labor expenses and the majority of that is spent on nursing (Goldberg & Fleming, 2010). As a result, nurse staffing levels are often reduced when trying to contain costs (Sanford, 2010). Consequently, many nurses complain that their units are continually understaffed and they feel like they are overworked (Unruh, 2008). Research has shown that this can result in a decrease in quality of care and patient safety and increase adverse patient events (Tevington, 2011). However, some criticize this research because it does not show a direct link between nurse staffing levels and individual patient outcomes (Needleman, Buerhaus, Pankratz, Leibson, & Stevens, 2011). This paper will investigate if inadequate nurse staffing levels have a negative impact on patient outcomes on adult inpatient acute care hospital units?
Adequate Versus Inadequate Nurse Staffing The American Nurses Association (ANA) defines adequate nurse staffing as an appropriate match between the nurse’s skill level and the needs of the patient ( American Nurses Association, 2012). To achieve adequate nurse staffing, it is known that balance must be achieved by properly staffing the unit with the appropriate number and correct mix of nurses to adequately care for the unit’s patient population (Sanford, 2010). The ANA believes that adequate staffing levels are essential to achieving positive patient outcomes ( American Nurses Association, 2012).
Inadequate nurse staffing occurs when there are not enough nurses and/or an incorrect mix of nurses to adequately care for the unit’s patient population (Sanford, 2010). Most hospitals do not

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