Short-Staffing Nurses and Patient Mortality

Short-Staffing Nurses and Patient MortalityApril 11, 2016 by Vickie Anenberg

Value-based reimbursement has placed a considerable strain of the financial health of healthcare facilities nationwide. Coping with this, and other initiatives such as HCAHPS scores that can affect Medicare reimbursements, have pressured many facilities to reduce their clinician staffing levels and in particular, nurses. However, such actions can prove to be highly counterproductive with significant unintended consequences.

Cross Country Staffing would like to call attention to a new article about short-staffing nurses and the resulting increase in patient mortality that has been posted by FierceHealthcare. This article features the findings of a survey conducted in the UK that indicate of “nurses with caseloads of at least 10 patients, risk of patient death is 20 percent higher than for patients whose nurses have caseloads of six or fewer.” These results, the lead researcher said, “demonstrate why hospital leaders should prioritize patient safety over their bottom lines.”

The concept of nurse-to-patient ratios is not new. California passed a nurse-patient ratio statute years ago. Most recently, Massachusetts passed legislation setting ratios for all hospital ICUs. In general, with the exception of certain critical care units such as the ICU, advocates of ratios lobby for nurses to carry caseloads not to exceed eight patients. However, recent reports indicate that numerous facilities have trimmed staffing levels, and their nurses have caseloads of from 10 to 12 patients per shift.

Cross Country Staffing advises that high caseloads can reduce patient care quality due to nurse fatigue and produce lower patient HCAHPS scores. They can also exacerbate RN turnover rates. And with the long-term shortage of qualified nurses, recruiting replacements and finding experienced contingent nurses can have a serious negative impact on scarce resources when attempting to solve the problem in-house.

However, we have developed a suite of workforce solutions that can not only meet staffing challenges, but can also help you to predict when and on what units your nursing staff will be needed most. These comprehensive staffing solutions range from Predictive Labor Management to our nationally recognized OneSource managed services provider program. Each can be customized, and is fully scalable to meet your facility’s unique staffing needs.

Financial viability in a highly competitive healthcare provider marketplace depends first and foremost on your facility’s ability to provide quality patient care. At Cross Country Staffing, we have the proven staffing solutions that will enable you to meet this objective. To learn more, schedule a meeting at your convenience with one of our healthcare staffing representatives. After we meet, you’ll understand why hundreds of facilities have formed long-term, highly cost-effective partnerships with us at Cross Country Staffing.