Inadequate healthcare staffing harms patient outcomes, but Internal Resource Pools can help.

Inadequate healthcare staffing harms patient outcomes, but Internal Resource Pools can help. June 24, 2014 by Vickie Anenberg

Evidence continues to mount that healthcare staffing ratios are directly related to positive patient outcomes. A study in BMJ Quality and Safety in Health Care looked at the connection between staffing ratios and hospital readmission in pediatrics - the first time this relationship has been studied, according to the authors.

The outcomes of more than 90,000 children in 225 hospitals were studied using survey and discharge data from four states – California, Florida, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. All of the hospitals involved were non-federal, acute-care facilities that had at least 50 pediatric discharges a year.

The study “Found that average pediatric nurse staffing ratios are significantly associated with hospital readmission for children with common medical and surgical conditions.” The authors believe these results have implications for hospital administrators.  

“Our findings suggest that hospitals might also achieve reductions in readmission by focusing on the number of patients assigned to nurses,” they wrote. “In pediatrics, limiting nurses’ workloads to four or fewer patients appears to have benefits in reducing readmission.”

With the peaks and valleys of demand, healthcare staffing can often be tricky to predict, but adequate staffing is a central component of successful patient care, as the authors noted: “Prior research shows that hospitals with better nurse staffing ratios deliver Joint Commission-recommended care for key conditions more reliably, highlighting the inter-relationship of nurse staffing levels and quality improvement success.”

To maintain necessary staffing levels at all times, many hospitals now use an Internal Resource Pool (IRP) that ensures a steady reserve of qualified personnel is available when needed. Additionally, this method much less than bringing in outside help at the last minute.

By working with a provider such as Cross Country Staffing to develop an IRP, a hospital is able to create a healthcare staffing solution that is customized to its unique circumstances. It is also able to make sure its nurse-to-patient ratio is ideal for delivering the best care possible.