TheRelationship between Staffing of Registered Nurses and Patient Safety

TheRelationship between Staffing of Registered Nurses and Patient Safety

Theprimary goal of the health care system is to enhance the overallwell-being of the society by addressing the medical conditions thataffect citizens. However, an exponential increase in cases of medicalerrors has reduced the capacity of the modern health care system toachieve its goals. For an instant, more than 19 % of all patients whoseek for medical help in the health care facilities with a chronicshortage of nurses are at a high risk of suffering from medicalerrors that could lead to their death or the development ofcomplicated diseases (Frith, Anderson, Tseng &amp Fong, 2012). Thestakeholders in the modern health care sector can reduce adverseevents and enhance patient safety by increasing the number ofregistered nurses to an optimum level.

Theratio of patient-to-nurses has a direct relationship with the levelof patient safety. A high nurse-to-patient ratio implies that thenumber of nurses is extremely low to serve a given number of clients.Consequently, the few nurses who are available are forced bycircumstances to deliver health care hurriedly or work for long hoursin order to serve all patients. This scenario of the shortage ofregistered nurses has been shown to cause one in every five cases ofmedical errors (Tubbs-Cooley, Cimiotti, Sloane &amp Silber, 2013).This can be easily reversed by increasing the number of registerednurses. The effectiveness of increasing the number of registerednurses in enhancing patient safety was confirmed a study showing thatchildren who are treated in pediatric care with the recommendednurse-to-patient ratio were less likely to experience adverse eventsand get readmitted. This was compared to children who were served infacilities with a nurse-patient ratio of more than 1:4 (Tubbs-Cooleyetal.,2013). The data provide a scientific proof that the process ofstaffing registered nurses has a direct impact on the safety ofpatients.

Theeffectiveness of nurse staffing in addressing the issue of patientsafety is associated with two key factors. First, an increase in thenumber of nurses leads to more contact hours between the health careproviders and their clients. Registered nurses get an opportunity tospend more time with each client, which implies that they can monitortheir progress and discover any negative developments in the earlystages (Frith, Anderson, Tseng &amp Fong, 2012). Therefore, patientsfeel safe because the chances of their medical conditions developingto chronic stages due to the lack of adequate attention of the nursesare minimal.

Secondly,the process of nurse staffing is associated with a decline in casesof unwarranted fatigue among the health care professionals. It isestimated that over 68 % of all cases of adverse events areattributed to long-working hours, which is in turn associated with ahigh nurse-patient ratio in the affected health care facilities(Toruner &amp Uysal, 2012). These scientific findings suggest thatadequate nurse staffing can reduce adverse events by more than half,which will result in a significant increase in the level of patientsafety. The association between the long-working hours and clientsafety is explained by the fact that nurses who are not overloadedare able to focus on the details of each medical case, thus ensuringthat patients get satisfactory services.

Inconclusion, the increase in cases of adverse events in the healthsector has limited the capacity of the health care system to achievethe goal of enhancing the wellbeing of the members of the society.However, these cases can be reduced through adequate nurse staffing.An optimum nurse-patient ratio enhances patient safety by increasingthe contact time between nurses and their clients and addressing theissue of long-working hours.


Frith,H., Anderson, E., Tseng, F. &amp Fong, A. (2012). Nurse staffing isan important strategy to prevent medication errors in communityhospitals. NursingEconomics,30 (5), 288-294.

Shekelle,G. (2013). Nurse-patient ratio as a patient safety strategy: Asystematic review. Annalsof International Medicine,158 (5), 404-409.

Toruner,E. &amp Uysal, G. (2012). Causes, reporting, and prevention ofmedication errors from a pediatric nurse perspective. AustralianJournal of Advanced Nursing,29 (4), 28-35.

Tubbs-Cooley,H. Cimiotti, J., Sloane, D. &amp Silber, H. (2013). An observationalstudy of nurse staffing ratios and hospital readmission amongchildren admitted for common conditions. BMJQuality and Safety,10 (11), 1-9.