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Home > Article Categories > Nursing Jobs > Nursing Shortage Threatens Availability of Quality Healthcare

Nursing Shortage Threatens Availability of Quality Healthcare

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The nursing shortage in America is a growing problem, and one that will not simply go away. Furthermore, if immediate action isn't taken to correct this shortage, then current demographics alone mean that the country is headed for a serious healthcare crisis. There is a temptation for hospitals to blame the crisis on educational institutions, who must reject many thousands of of qualified applicants every year, and do not produce enough new nurses. While this is a key factor in the shortage, healthcare facilities should not wait for schools to increase capacity, but must work to prevent job burnout in nurses, or they risk worsening both the shortage and the quality of healthcare available in America.
The shortage of nurses in U.S. hospitals has forced these facilities to institute dramatic changes to continue to treat patients. Recently, many registered nurses (RNs) have had to work longer hours and take a higher than recommended patient load. They are caring for more patients than they would if their workplace had an adequate nursing staff, and often must treat more than their hospital's own recommended maximum number of patients. Despite the best efforts of these people, patient healthcare is simply suffering.
Studies of surgical patients have revealed that hospitals with higher percentages of nurses have higher survival rates. They have also demonstrated that even a 10 percent increase in the level of RNs reduced patient deaths by around 5 percent.
On the other hand, a shortage of nurses has been a factor in up to 24 percent of deaths and injuries resulting to patients in hospitals. There are not enough nurses to safely care for all the patients they are required to, and this reflects itself in the overall quality of care for patients. Numerous complications and medical errors could be caught in time and prevented with an increased nursing staff.
Since 2006, there have been several successful multi-million dollar lawsuits against hospitals for patient harm directly related to the shortage of nurses. Thus, the shortage now demonstrably affects a hospital's employee retention, reputation as a provider of quality medical care, and financial stability.
Hospitals that do no take care to employ an adequate nursing staff run serious risk of jeopardizing patient health and employee well-being and retention, and damaging their ability to compete as quality medical institutions.

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