High nurse staffing levels can save lives.
With every patient added to a nurse’s workload, the patient’s chances of surviving a heart attack decreases by five percent. The data comes from Medical Care, the official journal of the medical care section from the American Public Health Association, a Top-10 journal in healthcare administration. Researchers studied data on more than 11 thousand adults from 2005 to 2007.
The study is the most recent body of evidence illustrating a direct link between patient outcomes and nurse staffing levels.
“These results add to a large body of literature suggesting that outcomes are better when nurses have a more reasonable workload and work in good hospital work environments,” the study reads. “Improving nurse working conditions holds promise for improving survival following IHCA.”
The battle for safe nurse staffing levels is happening across the country. From California to New York, nurses everywhere are advocating for better staffing levels and work environments. In April of 2015, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) issued a press release that expressed the same concern amidst organized pickets over poor staffing levels. Registered Nurse and President of the NYSNA Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez wrote:
We’re uniting for our patients and we’re asking management to prioritize safe RN and caregiver staffing levels that have proven to save lives. There are times when we’re caring for 9 or 10 patients — even more – and, it’s not possible to give each patient the attention that they need.
That’s just one of many anecdotes from distressed nurses enduring the national nursing shortage. The Medical Care study addresses the need for more nurses and why:
“Adequate hospital nurse staffing may be an important strategy in efforts aimed at achieving excellent patient outcomes. Improvement of work environments requires a change of inter-professional culture and extended delegation of care management to those care providers who are closest to patients.”
The need for higher nurse staffing limits is nothing new. But better patient outcomes isn’t the only reason to explore higher nurse staffing levels. The reality is, these stressful environments are taking a toll on nurses; they’re literally driving nurses away from the profession. According to a study conducted by The University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing, nurses are leaving the profession due to “nurse burnout,” especially nurses working in the ER.
But not all nurses decide to leave nursing – many decide to simply change their setting. Traveling is a common outlet for nurses ready for a better experience. A recent study revealed traveling nurses experience higher job satisfaction than their full-time peers.
The demand for travel nursing has reached a 20-year high as hospitals explore alternative staffing measures in the absence of local experienced nurses. If you’re with a facility in need of more nursing talent, consider traveling nurses as an option. Recent data illustrates that traveling nurses are actually strategically flexible and cost-effective in lieu of full-time overtime hours.