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Patient Safety and Nurse Staffing: An issue everyone can get behind

July 6, 2009

The American Nurses Association (ANA at www.nursingworld.org) has been diligently working on a very important patient and nursing care problem through research and dissemination of vital information. The issue is nurse staffing, or how many nurses care for a particular number of patients in a specific area/floor/unit of a hospital. For those of you who are not health care workers, but are instead the patients, nursing staff numbers on units are vital to patient safety and to nurses continuing their career in nursing (not quitting due to frustration and exhaustion). Suffice to say, good staffing of units is critical to all of us. With the amount of medical center and insurance profits declining, meaning cuts to hospital budgets, nurses are usually the first to go.

The ANA is attempting to get the word out on the importance of safe staffing numbers with their initiative called Safe Staffing Saves Lives (http://www.safestaffingsaveslives.org/). Here nurses and patients can go, read, take the poll, provide their own anecdotal story and become informed. Although mandating staffing ratios at a federal level brings on an entirely new level of paperwork and issues for the nurses who staff the floors and direct the staffing of the floors, the ANA brings up some valid points. With a nursing shortage, outrageous national spending, and a world-wide recession adding to the complexity of something as small as nurse staffing it becomes easy to question whether safe staffing levels can be achieved now. However, it is clear that someone should at least be recognizing and transmitting information on the depth and effect of nurse staffing issues. Thank you to the ANA for being the voice for patients and nurses.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. sfoleyajn permalink
    July 10, 2009 5:00 pm

    This is indeed a critical issue! I’m reminded of an article I edited last year (I’m a senior editor at the American Journal of Nursing) that looked at the impact of nurse staffing levels on nurses, patients, and hospital finances. The author, Lynn Unruh, conducted an extensive literature review and came up with several recommendations. She wrote, “the evidence clearly shows that adequate staffing and balanced workloads are central to achieving good patient, nurse, and financial ouctomes . . . indeed, nurses’ workloads should be a prime consideration.” Here’ s the link if you’re curious: http://bit.ly/1aV1c. (Open the PDF for the cleanest read.)

    I’m glad the ANA pollsters are looking for patient as well as nurse responses. The results should prove intriguing.

  2. July 10, 2009 5:18 pm

    Dr. Foley – Thanks for the comment and the excellent link to the AJN article. I love that there is online access to important nursing and patient information such as this. Excellent suggestions from Lynn Unruh as you point out. Thank you and the ANA for getting the word out! Also looking forward to poll results. Go Nursing!!!!!

  3. Bedside permalink
    April 2, 2010 11:44 pm

    Why no mention of ratios?

    • April 5, 2010 3:33 am

      Ratios how… in my post or in what the ANA is doing? I think that it depends on acuity and diagnosis, both of which are supported via research.

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