Staffing and Environment

The nationwide nursing shortage and other factors have left many facilities with fewer registered nurses. By 2020, the number of hospital nursing vacancies is expected to reach 800,000. Experts worry that this staffing shortage will lead to a more dangerous environment for patients. Numerous studies have found that short-staffed hospital units are more likely to have higher rates of hospital acquired illnesses (e.g. pneumonia, gastrointestinal bleeding) which lead to longer lengths of stay and added costs to the health care system.

The Institute of Medicine has called for more research on the relationship between nurse staffing and patient outcomes. Nurses are leading efforts to understand what drives better nursing care to keep patients safe and the environments that are crucial to making that happen.

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