Introduction Nursing practice is a dynamic field that is heavily reliant on research to provide the best care to patients. One such study, conducted by Jones et al. (2019), investigated the relationship between nurse staffing levels and patient outcomes in acute care hospitals. This essay will summarize the study, explain the ways in which the findings might be used in nursing practice, and address ethical considerations associated with the conduct of the study.
Summary of the Study Jones et al. (2019) conducted a retrospective study using data from the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators (NDNQI) to investigate the relationship between nurse staffing levels and patient outcomes in acute care hospitals. The study included over 200,000 patients and 29,000 registered nurses from 700 hospitals in the United States. The researchers found that higher levels of nurse staffing were associated with lower rates of hospital-acquired pressure ulcers, falls, and urinary tract infections. Additionally, the study found that lower levels of nurse staffing were associated with higher rates of hospital readmissions and longer hospital stays.
Implications for Nursing Practice The findings of this study have important implications for nursing practice. Nurses are responsible for providing safe and effective care to their patients, and this study provides evidence that adequate nurse staffing is necessary to achieve this goal. The study suggests that hospitals should strive to maintain adequate nurse staffing levels to improve patient outcomes and reduce the risk of adverse events. This information can be used by nurse managers and administrators to advocate for increased staffing and to make evidence-based decisions about staffing levels.
Additionally, the study highlights the importance of nurse-patient ratios. Nurses who are responsible for too many patients may not be able to provide the necessary care and attention to each patient, increasing the risk of adverse events. Nurses should be aware of their patient load and communicate with their supervisors if they feel they are unable to provide safe and effective care to their patients.
Ethical Considerations There are several ethical considerations associated with the conduct of this study. One concern is the use of retrospective data from the NDNQI, which may not accurately capture all relevant variables or account for confounding factors. Additionally, the study may have inadvertently contributed to the commodification of nursing labor by reducing nursing to a cost factor rather than a profession that provides compassionate care to patients.
Another ethical consideration is the potential for unintended consequences. For example, hospitals may increase staffing levels in response to this study, but may do so without considering the impact on the workload and job satisfaction of nurses. Furthermore, hospitals may prioritize staffing levels over other important factors, such as nurse education and training, that also contribute to improved patient outcomes.
Conclusion The study by Jones et al. (2019) provides important evidence regarding the relationship between nurse staffing levels and patient outcomes in acute care hospitals. The findings of this study can be used to improve nursing practice by advocating for increased staffing levels and emphasizing the importance of nurse-patient ratios. However, there are ethical considerations that must be addressed when interpreting the results of this study.