Better Nurse Staffing Requires a Strong Business Case

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media , March 26, 2013

"Hospitals in this study had better overall nurse staffing than most hospitals with a NICU in the U.S., and yet, the understaffing levels are striking, suggesting that most hospitals are falling even further short of the accepted guidelines for staffing critically ill infants," Eileen T. Lake, PhD, RN, FAAN, nursing professor and associate director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the School of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a statement.

Yet hospitals that wish to beef up the nurse staffing in their NICUs may have trouble doing so. The INQRI research review reveals that it's difficult to establish a business case for investing in nursing "because those investments tend to improve patient outcomes," researchers said.

Improving patient outcomes leads to reduced readmissions, and therefore, also reduces the need for additional care, researchers said. The key, according to the review, is research that examines reductions in healthcare costs and that's replicable, since it could help support a business case for nursing.

So the bottom line for NICUs that want to increase their staffing is the bottom line: Make the business case for it.

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is a managing editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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