Nurses all over the world are tasked with the responsibility of taking care of sick people both in hospitals and at-home care settings. Many researchers and scholars have shown that nurses are very important in society. However, the nurses have been overburdened with duties. Such workload can be attributed to understaffing of nurses in health care institutions.
The purpose of this study is to provide insight into the subject of understaffing of nurses.
Nurses in hospitals and other healthcare institutions are experiencing a heavy workload because there is a gradual increase in demand for nurses. The high demand for nurses follows an inadequate supply of nurses, as well as reduced staffing within the nursing sector. In their study of nursing workload and patient safety, Carayon and Gurses (2005) showed that an increase in the aging population increased the demand for nurses. The study found that out of 43,000 nurses who participated in the study, 17%-39% of the contacted nurses had plans to quit their jobs as a result of a heavy workload. Besides, the study showed that heavy workload on nurses has adverse effects on the provision of services to patients.
Numerous studies have shown that the understaffing of nurses is a major problem that hinders effective caregiving in healthcare institutions. According to a survey carried out by Daud-Gallotti et al. (2012), it was evident that excessive workload affected the productivity of nurses. The study used NAS to determine the workload of nurses, after which the selected group of patients was monitored to compare patients who did not have HAI with those who had developed the infections. An analysis of the study showed that lack of enough nurses was one of the primary risk factors for healthcare-associated infections, commonly abbreviated as HAI, amongst other persistent devices.
In their study to assess the condition of a neonatal unit nursing staff, Nunes and Toma (2013) used the Nursing Activities Score tool. In this case, they aimed to establish the amount of work that a given nurse should handle in a day. The analysis showed that there is high demand for work than the available nurses can handle.
Many nurses have complained of the difficulties that they undergo to provide safe and quality health care. A study carried out by Patterson (2011) on the effects of a nurse-to-patient ratio, showed that there is a need for a balanced workload in the nursing sector. The results of the study showed that the nurse to patient ratio was 1:4, and in other instances, the ratio was 1:8. Such a staffing ratio was responsible for the high risk of deaths to the patients. According to Patterson (2011), an increase in the number of nurses is likely to improve the provision of health care services.
A study contacted by Carmona-Monge et al. (2013) aimed at the assessment of nursing workload in different aspects of a university hospital. The results of the study showed that the nurse-to-patient ratio for any given shift was either 1:3 or 1:2, whereby all nurses were entitled to 12-hour shifts. It was evident that there is a need for suitable staffing within the ICUs, as a means to provide quality health care services to patients with critical needs.
From the analysis, it suffices that understaffing of nursing is a problem that affects the delivery of quality services to patients. For this reason, there is a need to ensure adequate staffing to improve the quality of service rendered to patients.
Carayon, P., & Gurses, A. (2005). A human factors engineering conceptual framework of nursing workload and patient safety in intensive care units. Intensive And Critical Care Nursing, 21(5), 284-301.
Carmona-Monge, F., Jara-perez, A., Quiros-Herranz, C., Rollan, G., Cerrillo, I., Garcia, S., & Martinez, I. (2013). Assessment of nursing workload in three groups of patients in a Spanish ICU using the Nursing Activities Score scale. Rev. Esc. Enferm. USP, 47(2), 335-340.
Daud-Gallotti, R., Costa, S., Guimaraes, T., Padilha, K., Inoue, E., Vasconcelos, T., Rodriguez, S.,…Levin, S. (2012). Nursing Workload as a Risk Factor for Healthcare Associated Infections in ICU: A Prospective Study. Plos ONE, 7(12), 23-42.
Nunes, B., & Toma, E. (2013). Assessment of a neonatal unit nursing staff: application of the Nursing Activities Score. Revista Latino-Americana De Enfermagem, 21(1), 348-355.
Patterson, J. (2011). The Effects of nurse to patient ratios. Nursing Times, 107(2), 22- 25.