How Is the Shortage Affecting Patient Care?

The unfortunate reality of the nursing shortage is that it is a growing problem. The most difficult fact about the shortage is that because nursing programs can’t accept the number of students to meet the demand for more nurses, the nursing shortage is increasing dramatically each year. Because of the nursing staff shortage in hospitals, many seasoned nurses are working longer hours and becoming weary of their jobs. They are caring for more patients than they would if the hospital had an adequate supply of nurses, and patient healthcare is beginning to suffer.

Statistics for Nursing Shortages and Patient Care

Statistics show that just with surgical patients, hospitals with higher percentages of qualified nurses have higher surgical survival rates. In fact, these statistics reveal that a 10 percent increase in the level of qualified registered nurses, or RNs, reduced the risk of patient death by as much as five percent. This is just one example of the impact nurses have on patient healthcare.

It is also believed that the majority of medical errors made in hospitals and clinics are a result of the nursing shortage. One startling statistic says that each additional surgical patient in a nurse’s common workload increased that patient’s risk of death by approximately seven percent. This frightening figure demonstrates the negative effect that the nursing shortage is having on patient healthcare. The nursing shortage is resulting in an increased risk of patient deaths because there are simply not enough nurses present to safely care for all the patients. Many complications or medical errors could be prevented by an increased staff of nurses.

One estimate shows that in 24 percent of death and injury resulting to hospital patients, a low nursing staff in the particular hospital played a role. These are eye-opening statistics that should be examined to determine the overall impact on patient care. The impact is obvious: a shortage of nurses means a shortage of quality health care. These facts and figures should be taken into consideration in order to provide a basis for combating the problem of a nursing shortage, such as increasing funds to nursing programs or encouraging better working hours.

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