Scheduling

The Impact of Short-Staffed Shifts

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October 28, 2021

When nurses are made to work at high nurse-to-patient ratios, patients die, get diseases, get injured, or are discharged without enough knowledge and medical care to treat the illness or injury. When nurses are not tired and have few patients, they can take better care of patients that results in less errors, few patients death and injuries.

What is Short-Staffing?

Short-staffed shifts happen when the census:
the quantity of admitted patients exceeds a unit’s maximum limit per nurse set by measures of quality and safety

Short staffing is a common case in various departments of every hospital. Not only nurses, physicians, long-term care, clinics, and stand-alone facilities are affected when there is a spike in patient volume from shift to shift.

The responsibility of treating extra patients falls on nurses. The failure to cautiously staff every shift affects both nurses and patients.

Why Shifts Go Understaffed

Many circumstances contribute to call-ins and vacant shifts:

  • Personal responsibilities, health situations, and schedule access/rigidity drive nurses to make out time in order to support their work and personal lives. 
  • Nurse burnout is problematic as an estimated 17.5% of newly-licensed nurses quit their first nursing work within the first year.
  • Perpetual demands for coverage drives nurses to tune out most outreach.

The Impact of Short-Staffed Shifts

A nurse’s workload is directly proportional or associated with their patient load. Extra patients reduce care time and increase shifts, forcing nurses with the difficult task of providing quality care faster. Administrators and stakeholders, as well as facility tech buyers, should understand the need for scheduling and staffing professionals.

Falls

When nurses cannot spend enough time with the patient, there are chance patients may try to do more if their call lights are not answered. Falls are very expensive. Facilities can not risk delayed responses to ‘fall risk’ bed alarms because of understaffing.

Medication Errors

Proper nursing should be done with care and detail. When nurses are hurried and tried, they are more prone to make mistakes leading to medical errors.

Bed Sores

Immobile patients must be moved at particular times during the day to avoid growing bed sores. Moving patients need a minimum of two staff members. Nurses usually turn patients by themselves when the rest of the staff is busy which leads to injuring one’s back. 

Burnout 

Nursing is emotionally and physically draining with proper patient ratios. The more understaffed shifts nurses are made to survive, the quicker they will experience burnout. Burnout costs nurses their careers and facilities an average of $60k.

Patient Dissatisfaction 

A facility’s potential to draw and engage patients is directly related to customer feedback. The longer patients wait for treatment, the more likely they are to evaluate the hospital poorly. 


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