Do you know who spends much more time with the patient during the day than the physicians?  (Perhaps more than anyone else in the hospital, often!) The answer is the nurse helping care for the patient.  It may be intuitive, then, that a nurse who is more available, and who can invest more time with a patient, can help prevent bad patient outcomes.  Perhaps it's being there to catch a patient who is falling, or noticing a wound infection earlier, or just having time to carefully check (and re-check) all important factors before administering a medication.  Whatever the reason, probabilities conspire to make it so that appropriate nurse staffing levels make for, in many cases, improved outcomes.

Why not, then, staff the heck out of hospitals?  Why not have nurses as far as the eye can see?  First, there's the well-known (and perhaps worsening) nursing shortage.  And, second (did you know?), staffing costs are more than 60% of the costs associated with running a hospital!  Other factors include the level of patient acuity, and how that varies from one hospital to another.

Bottom line:  using benchmarks for appropriate, safe levels of nurse staffing is key in achieving excellent patient outcomes.  For more info on outcomes and costs associated with nurse staffing levels, click on the link beneath.