Running head: BUDGET CUTS AND NURSING STAFFING The effects of budget cuts on nurse-staffing and the quality of care in hospitals (name) (school) The effects of budget cuts on nurse-staffing and the quality of care in hospitals Introduction The global economic crisis is impacting on almost all aspects of our lives, including our health care system…
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It shall discuss the economic crisis and budget cuts in terms of their ability to impact negatively in the general health care delivery of patients and of hospitals. Discussion Due to the protracted and still lingering economic crisis, legislators and other administrators have implemented budget cuts in the health care sector. These budget cuts have affected all aspects of health delivery, from staffing ratios, salaries of staff, to the purchase of equipment and hospital supplies. In terms of nursing staff, budget cuts have translated to fewer nurses being hired and lower pay for nurses hired; it also translates to nurses caring for an overwhelming number of patients – more than they can safely and adequately care for. The application of financial management the resolution of the health care issue in this case has gone through the stages of planning, controlling, organizing, and finally decision-making (Baker and Baker, 2011). It is unfortunate to note how the health financing process has resulted to budget cuts in health care and in this case, in the nursing profession. Inadequate nursing staff caring for an overwhelming number of patients is one of the major contributory factors to nursing burnout, and such burnout often leads to medical errors in the practice. There seems to be an agreed consensus on the relationship between nurse staffing and improved patient outcomes. In other words, with higher patient staffing levels, better patient outcomes seem to be more apparent (Garrett, 2008). The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality sets forth that nursing burnout can often compromise health care services. Chronic fatigue, as well as limited sleep and lack of rested sleep are common issues among nurses and other health personnel. In the documented case of Julie Thao, accounts reveal that she worked two 16 hour shifts back to back and at one point fell asleep at a hospital cot. Upon awaking, she administered the wrong medicine to a patient. Unfortunately, this led to her patient’s death (Garrett, 2008). She pled no contest to criminal neglect and was sent to jail for such neglect. Human errors impacts significantly on medical care (Kane, et.al., 2007). Not many studies have been carried out on the relationship of fatigue and on the decreased quality of health care. Studies in other fields of practice however exemplify how fatigue can slow down reaction time, how it can cause omissions, reduce problem solving ability, decrease motivation, and reduce a worker’s energy for assigned tasks (Garrett, 2008). Fatigue has been seen as the cause of errors in construction workplaces, oil fields, and even on airplanes (due to sleeping or exhausted traffic controllers). It is not therefore a far-fetched idea for such fatigue to translate to medical errors. Even if studies on this issue are limited, such errors have been accepted as possible eventualities by overworked medical and nursing practitioners themselves. Budget cuts in nursing cause fewer nurses to be hired. This means shortage of staff to fill in patient needs in the hospitals. In order to resolve this problem, hospital administrators are often prompted to impose mandatory overtime among their employees. Such overtime is often required during unplanned and emergency procedures in the clinical setting (Buerhaus, et.al., 2007). Shift changes which do not yield available relief nurses
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