Acute Shortage Of Nurses In The US Is Affecting The Quality Of Health Care

Healthcare facilities across the nation are facing difficulties filling open nursing positions. Reports from both the US Department of Health and Human Services and the American Nurses Association predict a nursing shortage that will worsen by 2030, with close to a million nurses retiring.

Nurse

Nurse

What Caused This Shortage?

A high turnover rate in the nursing industry is contributing to the shortage, with more professionals switching to diverse roles in healthcare settings. According to data, 16.5% of hospital nurses quit within the first year of employment. Additionally, since people are living longer and experiencing more illnesses, the demand for quality care is getting higher with each passing day but the resources are limited.

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How To Address This Concern?

Healthcare facilities can solve the nurse shortage by taking a few measures, even if they are slow-moving. A solution would be to provide enhanced education and training to existing groups of nurses looking to grow in their careers. A sense of loyalty can be created by this professional development, which can help hospitals deal with the problem of high turnover among nurses.

The hospital sector is also focusing on helping nursing programs and universities to train their students by providing e-learning platforms. Every year, reputable universities launch programs dedicated to specific areas of expertise. For instance, those RNs desiring to gain didactic and clinical experience that will enable them to best serve their patients can enroll in the DNP FNP programs online. The program will prepare participants to provide health care that is evidence-based and tailored to the needs of a specific population or culture.

What Is The Impact Of The Nursing Shortage On Patient Safety?

The fact that nurses spend more time interacting directly with patients causes them to perform at the highest level of pressure. Due to this, nurses have limited time and resources to improve their skills, resulting in adverse consequences for patient safety.

An increasing number of hospitals have reported a correlation between rising violence at work and a shortage of nursing staff. As the nursing shortage continues to worsen, conflicts will continue to rise.

In hospitals, the shortage of healthcare staff makes patients feel neglected. Available nurses feel overworked, frustrated, and underappreciated. Due to the nursing shortage, patient ratios have gotten out of hand, increasing burnout and fatigue among nurses.

Here are a few more pointers on how the nursing shortage affects patients’ safety:

As nurses provide routine care, they are at risk of committing errors because their work is intense. As a result of insufficient staffing, they are burdened with overtime and excessive shifts. Forcing them to care for more patients results in additional interruptions and safety errors.

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How Is This Shortage Affecting the Quality Of Healthcare?

A shortage of nurses to care for patients admitted to the facility leaves patients to deal with the situation independently. If nurse shortages rise, more medical errors will be committed, and patient morbidity rates will rise. As a result of longer shifts, there are more chances of making mistakes during inpatient care. In addition, patients may have to wait longer than expected for medical attention due to a lack of staff.

Healthcare organizations will continue to struggle if they do not address the nursing shortage. Research suggests that nursing shortages are projected to triple in the next decade. In the long run, nursing shortages have four negative impacts on the overall quality of healthcare.

  • Increased Death Rates

Nurse shortages and a shortage of healthcare professionals have numerous negative outcomes, the first of which is patient mortality. Short-staffed facilities are associated with higher death rates, according to several studies. An NCBI study found that a better mix of registered nurses in the staff is one of the top factors associated with lower mortality rates. Overworked nurses are neglecting and overlooking patients.

  • Increase In Nurse Burnout

Nurse burnout among healthcare professionals is another factor. Increasingly, nurses leave their positions and leave others to pick up the slack. Since the beginning of COVID-19, hospitals have also reported an increase in patient flow, causing many nurses to work overtime.

Nursing burnout or undervaluation can cause nurses to make mistakes that could have been easily avoided. Burnout can cause medication errors, overcrowding in the emergency room, or higher mortality rates among patients. Unfortunately, a shortage of nursing staff can also leave the quality of patient care suffering.

  • Re-admits

The lack of nursing staff can result in patients spending more time in the facility and being more likely to be re-admitted because of complications. The patients needing emergency care must also wait longer. Patients across the country might experience longer waiting times, which affects their quality of care.

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  • Hospitals Will Pay For The Crisis

The nursing shortage will have a financial impact on hospitals. To fill nursing positions, health care organizations can compete in hiring and paying nurses. Even now, many hospitals are paying hourly nurses at least twice as much as they were before, thanks to sign-on bonuses, benefits packages, and wage increases.

As a result of the extremely high demand for nurses from COVID-19 along with the current nursing shortage, hospitals pay $100 – $150 an hour for nurses. Due to the staff shortage throughout their shifts, several medical facilities have increased their overtime pay.

Conclusion

The nursing shortage has many negative effects. Patients’ mortality will increase, more nurses will leave their positions early, and patient care will be limited in hospitals already overloaded with patients and with insufficient staff to care for them. Nursing shortages can also result in ethical issues since patients’ rights must be protected, adequate staffing is needed, advanced decision-making is required, and quality patient care must be provided. Nursing shortages can also result in inexperienced nurses coming into the system.

Hospitals must devise strategies to overcome the nursing shortage, one of which could be educating nurses. Nurses who are educated contribute to organizational stability, continual care, nurse retention, and patient satisfaction.

References

https://www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/workforce/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493175/

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/effects-of-working-too-much/

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