The proposed change, in this case, is to recruit more nurses to hospitals to reduce the patient-to-nurse ratio, which can be achieved by lowering hiring standards to allow entry-level professionals eligible for these positions. Indeed, similar interventions related to nursing staffing improvement in several healthcare organizations in Queensland, Australia, resulted in a significant reduction in hospital stays, better patient outcomes, and lower medical costs (McHugh et al., 2021). This program allowed to save more than $67 million by preventing about 30,000 hospitalization days (McHugh et al., 2021). Furthermore, it led to a substantial drop in the mortality rate in those healthcare institutions (McHugh et al., 2021). Expanding the size of the staff and offering favorable employment conditions can help resolve the problem of the shortage of nurses in clinics.
Proposed Implementation Plan and Outcome Measures
The proposed plan for improving nurse staffing is to lower hiring standards by allowing young certified college graduates to be readily accepted and provide better working conditions. The latter will include flexible schedules, continuous education opportunities, decentralized management, and higher salaries. Indeed, creating “the stable professional nursing staff … is one of the essential requirements to provide ideal patient outcomes, reducing falls, infections, medication errors, mortality, and pressure ulcers” (Shin et al., 2020, p. 57). Since the primary duty of nurses is caring for patients, the outcome measures will be the number of preventable healthcare-associated accidents and deaths.
Evidence-Based Practice in Creating the Intervention Plan
This intervention plan was created using evidence-based practice from previous research. In fact, this issue is widely discussed in the literature because the shortage of nurses causes 24% of adverse hospital events and 84% of all medication errors (Shin et al., 2020). Although the U.S. legislation established specific ratios between nurses and patients that can range from one-to-one to one-to-six, depending on the department, some hospitals still allow for higher proportions (Shin et al., 2020). Since this project focuses on the infectious diseases unit, where many patients with COVID may need increased attention, the ratio should be set as one-to-two to ensure good quality of care.
The proposed intervention needs to be evaluated at various time points to assess its effectiveness. The appraisal of the project’s efficacy will be conducted six and twelve months after the implementation of the plan. It will allow seeing if the proposed project improved patient outcomes in terms of reducing the length of stay, falls, medical errors, pressure injuries, and mortality compared to the control group. According to Aiken et al. (2018), hospitals with better staffing have 30% fewer hospital-acquired infections and an 11% lower mortality. Therefore, a significant expectation is placed on this intervention, but the outcomes will be known only after the assessment.
Potential Barriers and Ways of Overcoming These Issues
Although the staffing improvement plan seems to be promising, there is a potential barrier that may halt the intervention. Specifically, hospitals may not have a sufficient budget to provide more jobs for nurses and improve their working conditions. Indeed, this plan requires substantial financial investments, but it can bring enormous long-term benefits to healthcare organizations. In fact, reduced hospital stays, medical errors, and deaths can diminish hospitals’ expenses. One of the potential ways to overcome this issue is to request funding from the federal government. Another approach is to ask private sources to provide financial support for this intervention.
Aiken, L. H., Cerón, C., Simonetti, M., Lake, E. T., Galiano, A., Garbarini, A., Soto, P., Bravo, D., & Smith, H. L. (2018). Hospital nurse staffing and patient outcomes. Revista Médica Clínica Las Condes, 29(3), 322-327. Web.
McHugh, M. D., Aiken, L. H., Sloane, D. M., Windsor, C., Douglas, C., & Yates, P. (2021). Effects of nurse-to-patient ratio legislation on nurse staffing and patient mortality, readmissions, and length of stay: A prospective study in a panel of hospitals. The Lancet, 397(10288), 1905-1913. Web.
Shin, S., Park, J. D., & Shin, J. H. (2020). Improvement plan of nurse staffing standards in Korea. Asian Nursing Research, 14(2), 57-65. Web.