Systematic review of the evidence related to mandated nurse staffing ratios in acute hospitals
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Methods: The PRISMA method was used. Relevant articles were located by searching via the Griffith University Library electronic catalogue, including articles on PubMed, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) and Medline. Only English language publications published between 1 January 2010 and 30 April 2016 focusing on methodologies in acute hospital in-patient units were included in the present review. Results: Two of the four staffing methods were found to have evidenced-based articles from empirical studies within the parameters set for inclusion. Of the four staffing methodologies searched, supply and demand returned 10 studies and staffing ratios returned 11. Conclusions: There is a need to develop an evidence-based nurse-sensitive outcomes measure upon which staffing for safety, quality and workplace equity, as well as an instrument that reliability and validly projects nurse staffing requirements in a variety of clinical settings. Nurse-sensitive indicators reflect elements of patient care that are directly affected by nursing practice In addition, these measures must take into account patient satisfaction, workload and staffing, clinical risks and other measures of the quality and safety of care and nurses’ work satisfaction. i. What is known about the topic?: Nurse staffing is a controversial topic that has significant patient safety, quality of care, human resources and financial implications. In acute care services, nursing accounts for approximately 70% of salaries and wages paid by health services budgets, and evidence as to the efficacy and effectiveness of any staffing methodology is required because it has workforce and industrial relations implications. Although there is significant literature available on the topic, there is a paucity of empirical evidence supporting claims of increased patient safety in the acute hospital setting, but some evidence exists relating to equity of workload for nurses. What does this paper add?: This paper provides a contemporary qualitative analysis of empirical evidence using PRISMA methodology to conduct a systematic review of the available literature. It demonstrates a significant research gap to support claims of increased patient safety in the acute hospital setting. The paper calls for greatly improved datasets upon which research can be undertaken to determine any associations between mandated patient to nurse ratios and other staffing methodologies and patient safety and quality of care. What are the implications for practitioners?: There is insufficient contemporary research to support staffing methodologies for appropriate staffing, balanced workloads and quality, safe care. Such research would include the establishment of nurse-sensitive patient outcomes measures, and more robust datasets are needed for empirical analysis to produce such evidence.
Australian Health Review
© 2018 AHHA. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.
This publication has been entered into Griffith Research Online as an Advanced Online Version.
Health Care Administration