It takes more than pills and a doctor to help accelerate healing. After the initial diagnosis and the medicine prescribed, it is a nurse who checks your vital signs, administers the medications, and evaluates the progress. The question then becomes how often and how many nurses does it take to create an optimum care environment. How many staff must there be on hand for patient outcomes to move in a positive direction? How do you measure that? What is it they do that makes the critical differences in recovery?
Until 2000, few studies had been done in the area of staffing. Change in the way health facilities are managed and the laws which impact care resulted in nursing staffing shortages. Patient outcomes suffered. Same diagnosis, same medications, in most cases, but without an adequate number of nurses, recovery took longer and patient satisfaction declined. The shortage was felt, not only in hospitals, but in assisted living and nursing homes as well.
According to a NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) government study, nursing happens in a multidisciplinary context so terms of care had to be defined. A set of consensus-based standards were chosen based on the criteria of safe, reliable, timely, patient centered, beneficial, equitable and efficient. From these standards was created the National Quality Forum Report. In 2004, California implemented the findings and, as a result, units with adequate nurse staffing resulted in fewer patient deaths and fewer days spent in the hospital as compared to states that did not legislate nurse-to-patient ratios. In catastrophic illness, such as cancer, good nursing care becomes even more important. The level of the nurse also impacts patient outcomes as well. Nurses who were RNs with high levels of specialized training had significantly less patient deaths and better patient outcomes.
Medical care is highly regulated by both government and insurance companies. The problem has been quantifying optimal staffing. Knowledgeable health professionals know what to look for, have a focus on preventing problems, and, most of all, talk with the patient directly. Communication between patients and their nurse reveal subtle health differences that nurses respond to by adjusting care to tailor treatment to patient needs. In recruitment process outsourcing, recruiting nurses who meet the specialty needs of patients is always considered.
When looking for health care for a loved one at any health facility, checking the nurse-to-patient ratio and the level of nurses’ education and experience is important. Check if they use a service such as a certified healthcare staffing company to maintain the ratio. Ask about their philosophy on the patient/heath care professional relationship. Staffing does impact patient satisfaction and recovery.
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