Effect of Nursing Staffing on Patient Safety
Health care service providers work in an environment characterized by different interactions such as procedures, policies, technology, and resources. With the interaction of complex factors in place, there is a possibility of unanticipated or harmful outcomes to occur. Nurses must overcome these complex factors in their working environment to offer safe and quality patient care. Nurses rely on their experience, skills and knowledge to take care of the varying patients’ needs. Ideally, the huge responsibility for the patient care and safety in the hospitals has been directed to the nurses (Needleman, 2016). If nurses lack the right set of competencies and experience, there is a likelihood for them to compromise on the patient care and safety. It is out of this observation whereby this essay investigates how the nursing staffing competencies and experience affect the patient care and safety. In the exploration of this question, the essay will use studies and findings to determine what makes up the nursing competencies and experience and how they affect the patient safety.It is important to understand what entails the nursing competencies and experience in the healthcare sector. According to the American Nurse Association, nursing competencies are professional responsibilities of the individual nurses (Strong, 2016). The nursing competency calls for the observance of the laid down standards. The established nursing standards portray the nurses’ skills and knowledge. Additionally, the nursing competency extends to incorporate nursing expectations as well as their scientific knowledge. Nurses demonstrate competency by meeting all provisions of the nursing standards (Duffin, 2014). For the nurses to qualify as competent, they must adhere to all standards that guide them in their clinical practice. Every nurse is responsible for making sure she or he meets the competency threshold as per the requirement of every standard. On the other hand, the nursing experience is the additional expertise that nurses acquire as the result of using their working environment to learn (Anderson, Tseng, Fong, & Frith, 2012). Experienced nurses are highly skilled in certain areas in which they can work independently (Skår, 2012). Both nursing competencies and experiences are very crucial in the provision of patient care and safety. Therefore, nurses are required to possess both attributes when delivering their healthcare services to the patients.
Recently, the importance of nursing staffing competencies and experience has been a major concern facing the healthcare sector. Ideally, nursing is one the crucial factors in the healthcare provisions that determine the patient’s care and safety (Clendon & Gibbons, 2017). Hughes (2012) noted that nursing staffing is an important aspect that determines the kind of safety and care that admitted patients receive. According to Hughes, nurses are vital components in the delivery of the healthcare services. Therefore, their competencies and experience are likely to affect the patients’ quality care and safety. Different studies have come up with different conclusions on the association between nursing staffing competencies and experience on the patients’ care and safety outcomes. For example, as Hughes (2012) outlines, studies starting as early as the 1990s up to 2012 have had different conclusions on the associations between the staffing nursing competencies and experience and patient care outcomes. However, in all these studies, the deterioration on the patient care sparked a lot questions about what might be the reasons behind its cause. In the end, almost all studies concluded that staffing nursing competencies and experience were very crucial in determining the quality of patient care and safety. The observations by these studies laid a foundation of the need for the further researches to investigate the impact nursing staffing competencies and experience have in the patient care.
In the yesteryears, there has been an increase in urgency to examine and understand the nursing staffing competencies and experience impacts on the patient care outcomes. These investigations have found that nursing staffing competencies and experience affect patient care and safety positively. The nursing competency is the ability of the nurse to deliver the right and high quality patient care and safety (Strong, 2016). The nursing competencies are determined by the skills and knowledge that nurses acquire either as students or while practicing. These traits are also affected by the skills set mixture within the healthcare organization (Staggs, Olds, Cramer, & Shorr, 2016). For example, when a less competent nurse work in the same environment with the highly qualified and competent nurse she or he is likely to develop right competent skills and experience that will enable her to offer appropriate patient care and safety. The impact of nursing competencies and experience on the patient care can be related to the study conducted in the European hospitals by (Aiken et al., 2016). Aiken and her colleagues based their study in hospitals in Switzerland, Spain, Ireland, Finland, England and Belgium to target adult patients in need of acute care. The study found that in the hospitals where there were high numbers of highly qualified and competent nurses the cases of mortality rates were very low. However, the researchers concluded that nursing competencies are likely to be affected by factors such as adverse events, job dissatisfaction and burnouts. Therefore, they suggested that for the nurses to maintain their competencies in the provision of patient care, factors affecting their performance should be eliminated. The researchers called for the healthcare administrators to improve the nursing working environment for the nurses to deliver the desired patient care and safety.Nurses’ vigilance is highly recommended when they are offering care services to patients. This vigilance calls for the nursing competency and experience to be able to provide the appropriate patient care and safety (Patient Safety Primer, 2017). When the nursing competencies and experience are supplemented with the aspect of vigilance, nurses will be able to apply right interventions and assessments intended to prevent adverse effects and counteract undesirable patient care outcomes. According to Stanton (2014), it calls for the nursing competency and experience to know when to apply the aspect of vigilance. For example, the degree upon which nurses deal with the cases of patients’ fall from the hospital beds depends on the nursing experience and competency. Apart from the established fall-prevention procedure, nursing competencies and experience play big roles in preventing fall risks among the patients (Clendon & Gibbons, 2017). Besides, it is easier for the highly competent and experienced nurses to maintain and observe risk preventions unlike the less competence and inexperienced nurses. Alternatively, high qualified nurses are more likely to pay attention to the patient safety than the less qualified and inexperienced nurses. For example, according to Hughes (2012) highly competent and experienced nurses offer correct medication, consistently monitor patients conditions, and therefore, they are likely to identify early deteriorations and adopt the right measures to correct conditions that may result to the harmful patient care and safety outcomes.
The staffing nursing competencies and experiences are profoundly affected by the number of patients per nurse. This observation is based on the study by Cook, Gaynor, Stephens & Taylor, (2012) who noted that even though competent and experienced nurses perform well when it comes to the patient care, nurses should be aligned with the number of patients they can provide sufficient care. Cook, Gaynor, Stephens & Taylor (2012) employed both quantitative and qualitative research techniques by using the patient’s data from non-federal hospitals in California. These scholars put more emphasis on the service mix and the staffing levels. The service mix entailed the portfolio skills sets, experience and competencies among the nurses in the sampled hospitals. On the other hand, the staffing levels involved determining the number of patients per nurse in the target population. The study used both descriptive and regression analysis to determine whether increasing the number of nurses with the different skills set improved the patient care and safety in the hospitals. The researchers found that there was a minimal relationship between the patients’ care and the staffing levels in the hospitals. In fact, the increase on the number of nurses did not improve the quality of the patient care. Therefore, Cook and his team recommended that hospital administrators should embrace the concept of nursing skills mixture to improve the patient care quality. The conclusion by Cook and his colleagues leads this essay to argue that nursing competencies and experience are some of the crucial skills in the provision of the patient care. Therefore, they are very important in the Cook, Gaynor, Stephens, & Taylor (2012) recommendations. In these study, it was proven that increasing the staffing levels was not a solution to the poor patient care but rather having in place nurses who are competent and experienced was an answer to worsened patient care and safety.
The study conducted in the respiratory care center by Pei-Hsuan Yang, Hung, Chen, & Hu (2012) in south Taiwan found that different nursing competencies and experience affected patient care outcomes. The researchers used the patient data obtained from 2006 to 2008 records. This study targeted 487 patients in the south of Taiwan. This sample was divided into groups. The first group comprised of 247 patients who had been under the care of the registered nurses who had 70 to 80 pass rate. On the other side, the second group that comprised of the 240 patients had received care from registered nurses who had 100 pass rate. Even though the researchers found that there was a positive relationship between the ventilator wearing and respiratory infections, they attributed patient care to the proportion of the registered nurses based on their pass rates. According to Pei-Hsuan Yang, Hung, Chen, & Hu (2012), registered nurses who have high pass rates exhibit high levels of competencies and experience. Therefore, in the nursing working environment whereby the registered nurses have 100 percent pass rate, there will be a high probability of the patients to receive quality care. The researchers also found that hospital management was influential in determining the proportion of the registered nurses in the given hospital. The study recommended that healthcare administrators should make sure the registered nurses’ proportion in hospitals is well-balanced to prevent poor patient care.Nursing staffing competencies and experience have positive impacts on patient care and safety. Different studies and reports have proved that when patients are attended by the highly qualified and experienced nurses, they are likely to receive high quality patient care. The research findings as outlined in this essay show that nursing competencies and experience can be affected by factors such as high number patients per nurse, job dissatisfaction, burnouts and adverse events and registered nurses proportion. Therefore, it is highly recommended for the healthcare administration and management to make sure these factors are eliminated to improve the patients’ care and safety. This essay suggests that nurses should supplement their competencies and experience with vigilance to be able to assess, recognize and prevent risk factors that can comprise patient care and safety.