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The lack of qualified nursing staff is becoming an increasingly big concern not only at a local level but also from a global perspective. Because of the consistent rise in quality standards and the lack of appropriate training options for nurses, the opportunities for providing high-quality care are shrinking (Wise, Fry, Duffield, Roche, & Buchanan, 2015). Therefore, the development of a viable solution that will allow increasing the nurse-to-patient ratio (NPR) is a crucial step toward improving the quality of care and patient outcomes.
The Six Standards of Quality Perspective
The issue concerning the lack of qualified nurses and the low NPR levels needs to be viewed from the perspective of the Six Standards of Quality suggested by the Institute of Medicine (IoM) (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2015). Particularly, the current situation affects patient safety levels negatively since it may trigger numerous instances of information mismanagement due to the inability to cope with a large amount of data and increasingly high workload. Similarly, the effectiveness rates of the nursing staff are reduced greatly as a result of an overloaded schedule and the following workplace burnouts. The opportunities for patient-centered care are also limited as a result of a drop in the NPR ratio. With fewer nurses to tend to the needs of patients, there is less time to explore the backgrounds of the target population and engage in consistent communication (Giammona et al., 2016).
The timeliness of the service delivery also suffers since nurses need to provide services to an increasingly large number of patients. To offer high quality of services, nurses will have to take time to administer appropriate treatment; consequently, delays are inevitable. Similarly, the efficiency of patient care will be reduced due to the restrictions of time and the inability to embrace a large volume of data required creating a patient-centered environment. Hence, the problems with meeting the needs of every patient successfully are to be expected. Furthermore, the increase in the number of patients may trigger instances of information mismanagement and following errors in providing the medicine of the required dosage and at the stated time (Bogaert, Dilles, Wouters, & Rompaey, 2014). Therefore, patient outcomes are bound to become worse as a result of a declining NPR. Herein lies the equitability problem, which is the six and final element of the assessment tool. Because of time-related restrictions, nurses are incapable of providing patients from diverse backgrounds with the services of the am equality as the ones offered to the locals. Seeing that exploring the cultural and ethnic factors affecting patients requires a substantial amount of time and effort, with low NPR, nurses cannot engage in a detailed analysis of their patients’ cultural and ethnic specifics. Consequently, the mismanagement of patients’ needs is very likely.
Solutions to the Problem
A reconsideration of the current legislation that defines the staffing standards should be deemed as the primary tool for addressing the issue. By creating a set of rigid boundaries for the NPR, one will be able to avoid the problems listed above. For this purpose, opportunities for professional growth and training options must be provided to nurses.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The lack of qualified nurses and the subsequent drop in NPR creates a range of problems for all stakeholders involved, quality issues, and workplace burnouts being the two primary areas of concern. The Six Standards framework shows that there is a direct correlation between the NPR and patient safety, equity in the workplace, timeliness of the services, etc. Thus, the existing framework for staffing must be reconsidered on a state level, with the introduction of rigid legal boundaries.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. (2015). The six domains of health care quality. Web.
Bogaert, P. V., Dilles, T., Wouters, K., & Rompaey, B. V. (2014). Practice environment, work characteristics and levels of burnout as predictors of nurse reported job outcomes, quality of care and patient adverse events: A study across residential aged care services. Open Journal of Nursing, 4(5), 343-355. Web.
Giammona, S., Arena, G., Calò, M., Barone, M. B., Scelsa, D., Lepre, A.,… Schlenk, E. A. (2016). Nursing workload and staff allocation in an Italian hospital: A quality improvement initiative based on nursing care score. Central European Journal of Nursing and Midwifery, 7(2), 420-427. Web.
Wise, S., Fry, M., Duffield, C., Roche, M., & Buchanan, J. (2015). Ratios and nurse staffing: The vexed case of emergency departments. Australasian Emergency Nursing Journal, 18(1), 49-55. Web.