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Is There a Link Between Understaffing and Negative Patient Outcomes?

Hospital staffing shortages are a serious problem that can have a significant negative impact on patient outcomes. When hospitals don’t have enough staff, patients can experience delays in care, reduced quality of care, and even death.

The Journal of Advanced Nursing published a study showing that nurse understaffing may have led to unsafe practice management workarounds, cognitive failures, and decreased patient safety.

Research has also shown that reducing nursing staff in order to cut costs can lead to employee burnout and poor patient outcomes.

Near Misses

The researchers set out to evaluate how personnel and expertise understaffing jointly contribute to near misses, which are “events that have the potential to result in accidents and injuries,” according to the study.

Almost all adverse medical events are preventable if we can recognize them early enough. This is called a “near miss.” By identifying near misses, healthcare organizations can avoid systemic issues and patient harm.

The study found that understaffed nurses are more likely to engage in safety workarounds, which often lead to near misses.

The pandemic not only resulted in an increased workload for nurses, but also a staffing shortage. This puts immense pressure on nurses to get work done quickly, often at the expense of quality.

Safety Workarounds Have Detrimental Effects

With an increasing shortage of staff, it’s become more and more common for employees to take shortcuts on safety procedures, which often led to near misses.

Findings showed that if a work group is understaffed in terms of expertise, meaning they’re missing key skills needed to complete their tasks, this has a positive correlation with cognitive failures.

Cognitive failures are mental lapses that can lead to errors. They’re often the result of fatigue, distractions, or stress.

Locum Tenens Can Solve Staffing Shortages

There are many ways to address staffing shortages. One solution is to use locum tenens nurses and physicians. Locum tenens providers are temporary healthcare workers who contract with hospitals and other healthcare facilities to fill in for absent staff members.

This arrangement can be beneficial for both parties: hospitals can ensure that they have the staffing they need, while locum tenens nurses and physicians can enjoy the flexibility of working on a contract basis.

In addition, locum tenens workers can help to ease the transition when permanent staff members retire or leave their position for other reasons.

As the healthcare profession continues to face staffing challenges, locum tenens will play an increasingly important role in ensuring that patients receive the care they need.

Locum Tenens Staffing for Healthcare Organizations

At VISTA, we understand that finding the right fit is essential for both healthcare organizations and clinicians. That’s why we offer a full range of staffing services designed to help everyone find the right opportunity.

For healthcare organizations, we provide access to a global network of highly skilled clinicians.

For clinicians, we offer a wide variety of locum tenens and permanent opportunities at leading healthcare organizations around the world. Whether you’re just starting your career or taking the next step in your journey, VISTA is here to help you succeed.

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