Missed Nursing Care: Definition and Implications


Missed care is the problem that concerns not only the nursing field but also the entire healthcare system. Untimely rendering assistance to patients who are in desperate need of it can lead to serious consequences, and responsibility for this mistake lies primarily with medical personnel. The features of such a concept as missed care define it as one of the categories of errors made at the stage of treatment. Its negative impact on the quality of care and the healthcare system as a whole can be significant if no measures are taken to fight this phenomenon and strive to eradicate it.

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Missed Care Definition

Missed nursing care is inadequate or untimely assistance to patients. It, in its turn, can cause the development of a certain disease and complications because of ineffective interventions. According to the study conducted by Jones, Hamilton, and Murry (2015), 98% of the nurses interviewed by the authors confirm that they quite often leave at least one of their tasks undone (1135). It indicates that the overwhelming majority of nursing staff does not always implement job prescriptions effectively for various reasons. From a clinical point of view, it can have negative consequences for patients who need help. Nurses can fail their colleagues by making a mistake and thereby complicating the task of physicians.

In order to improve performance and to reduce the high level of missed care, it is necessary to provide assistance to those who are most at risk of mistakes. As Lake, Germack, and Viscardi (2016) claim, “patients have poorer care experiences in hospitals where more nurses miss required nursing care” (p. 542). Nevertheless, according to the authors, the support of junior medical personnel can be valuable to optimize the quality of care (Lake et al., 2016). If employees interact with one another, the indicators of patient outcomes can grow.

Impact on Continuous Quality Improvement in Healthcare

A continuous tendency to improve the quality of healthcare is a logical understandable desire. However, missed care can adversely affect this process and slow the progress of medicine. It may be due to the fact that many patients cannot quickly recover due to ineffective nursing care. As Dabney and Kalisch (2015) note, a high level of readmission can be the result of missed care. That is why the problem under consideration is of great importance for the healthcare sphere and requires an urgent solution.

Missed Care in Personal Work Setting

In my clinical area, the solution to the problem of missed care is topical. Since I work as a nurse in a healthcare institution, I have to deal with this issue periodically. However, it is customary for our team to support colleagues, and errors can be minimized if employees closely monitor their work responsibilities and at the same time help one another. When the staff consists of competent and responsible employees, missed care can be eradicated. Therefore, it is significant to seek to increase personal qualification and help colleagues if necessary.


In case no measures are taken to combat missed care, this problem can have a negative impact on the quality of care and patient outcomes. The issue is relevant in various clinics, and teamwork is required to solve it. The impact on the healthcare sector is strong, and a high level of readmission can be one of the consequences. It is possible to exclude this problem from personal practice by interacting with colleagues and constantly working on improving individual skills.


Dabney, B. W., & Kalisch, B. J. (2015). Nurse staffing levels and patient-reported missed nursing care. Journal of Nursing Care Quality, 30(4), 306-312.

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Jones, T. L., Hamilton, P., & Murry, N. (2015). Unfinished nursing care, missed care, and implicitly rationed care: State of the science review. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 52(6), 1121-1137.

Lake, E. T., Germack, H. D., & Viscardi, M. K. (2016). Missed nursing care is linked to patient satisfaction: A cross-sectional study of US hospitals. BMJ Quality & Safety, 25(7), 535-543.

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