The Impact of a Decrease in Nurse-to-Patient Proportion on Medication Errors

Topic: Nursing
Words: 991 Pages: 5
Table of Contents


The problem is a lack of staff on the surgical floor, as well as an inadequate level of nurse-patient ratio. The problem is relevant because the patient-nurse proportion in medical settings is linked to clinicians’ workload, fatigue, and work satisfaction (Chen et al., 2019). Current practice influences the individuals’ desire to leave the healthcare field and the underpinning stress route (Chen et al., 2019). The findings show that by using job discontent, client-related stress, and personal tiredness as criteria, acceptable patient-nurse ratio criteria may be further addressed (Chen et al., 2019).


Scholars and decision-makers should use the patient-nurse proportion to establish an acceptable standard patient-nurse ratio (Chen et al., 2019). The data and sources that validate the problems of safety and quality indicators are nurses’ desire to quit the profession (Chen et al., 2019). Longer durations of service, patient discontent, greater readmissions, and more adverse effects can be caused by insufficient nurse staffing. The lack of staff and inadequate nursing staffing can lead to significant difficulties in pain management, which is essential for the patients.

The data and sources that validate the problems of practice observations are the well-being of patients jeopardized in healthcare institutions with a shortage of nurses and inadequate staffing. Additionally, overworked nurses may overlook nuances or fail to ultimately interact with patients, which can make patients unhappy with the care they receive. The number of staff members allocated to different inpatient units is referred to as personnel patterns (Malatji et al., 2017). Nursing staff may suffer due to staffing arrangements that allow the unbalanced patient-to-nurse proportions (Malatji et al., 2017).

The data and sources that validate the problems of patient satisfaction and others are the unpleasant encounters that lead to higher levels of physical weariness, mental turmoil, significant nurse turnover and the detrimental effects of adverse patient outcomes (Malatji et al., 2017). The personnel patterns utilized in these departments are determined mainly by the increased patient-to-nurse proportions and the financial element of private hospitals (Malatji et al., 2017). As a result, the existing staffing patterns force healthcare professionals to perform longer shifts and overtime without giving them an alternative, with the implications described above as a result (Malatji et al., 2017). Serious consequences can arise if ignoring the problem of specialists staffing.

As the previously mentioned evidence concludes, the data and sources that validate the problem are related to quality indicators, practice observations, and patient satisfaction. The issue is relevant since it encompasses a wide range of potential adverse effects, for instance, difficulties in pain management. The current practice is connected to evaluating, measuring, and controlling the patient-nurse ratio (Chen et al., 2019).

The following PICOT question can be formed based on inadequate staffing. Within the population of hospital patients (P), what is the impact of a decrease in nurse-to-patient proportion (I) on medication errors and pain management (O) compared with no changes (C) during a year (T)?

Since no general empirical agreement exists on how clinicians’ activity should be quantified, staffing analysis might be defined as an inconsistent area of study. The overall number of patients allocated to one nurse or nursing assistant during their most recent change is known as the patient-nurse proportion, a frequently utilized measure (Wynendaele et al., 2019). Previous studies have recommended using a certain patient-nurse balance, for instance, a 4:1 ratio in surgical and medical departments (Wynendaele et al., 2019).

Minimized and diminished nurse-to-patient proportion requirements are one strategy intended to ensure improved staffing; however, these regulations have seldom been implemented or assessed (McHugh et al., 2021). Policies requiring a minimum nurse-to-patient proportion are practical and cost-effective to increase nurse staffing and enhance the treatment experience. Concerns have been raised regarding the set staffing ratios since they do not account for the typical variation of the workplace among facilities or even across related departments within the same clinic (Wynendaele et al., 2019). In fact, according to the provided evidence, a reduction in nurse-to-patient ratio, with an increase in the number of nurses, leads to positive changes.

Databases include articles of well-respected scholars; one of the most diversified and justified evidence was presented in Wynendaele et al. since, in this article, the reduction of the patient-nurse ratio was analyzed in complex with other variables. Due to the shortage of nurses, suboptimal nurse staffing, including decreased staffing levels, higher nurse extra usage, excessive use of contractual nursing personnel, and high turnover, frequently occurs (Shin et al., 2018). The association between a wide variety of nurse outputs and the patient-nurse proportion staffing technique has not been comprehensively investigated in prior assessments (Wynendaele et al., 2019).

The hospital administration continues to suffer in determining the appropriate number of nurses since they do not accommodate the workload fluctuation throughout the day (Wynendaele et al., 2019). Despite the different methodologies used, the research found that a more excellent patient-to-nurse ratio can be linked to better nurse performance (Wynendaele et al., 2019). It should be evident that in addition to the patient-nurse proportion, factors including the practice setting, patient satisfaction, nurses’ training, the function of the nurse, and the workplace environment must be taken into account (Wynendaele et al., 2019). Hence, while selecting appropriate evidence related to the initially developed question, it is feasible to state that nurse staffing should be examined considering associated factors.


Concerning evidence recommendations and elaborating an action plan, it is possible to propose initially applying the proportion of the 4:1 patient-nurse ratio. To maintain an efficient and encouraging workplace environment, healthcare institutions must concentrate on keeping nurses. Employers must do everything possible to prevent skilled nurses from leaving the employment since they offer care and protect patients’ wellbeing (Wynendaele et al., 2019). It is feasible to suggest paying attention to the patient-nurse ratio and other factors of influence, for example, practice setting, patient satisfaction, and nurses’ training. Summarizing the evidence, it can be concluded that efficient and effective pain management is impossible without considering the primary conditions of nurse staffing.


Chen, Y. C., Guo, Y. L., Chin, W. S., Cheng, N. Y., Ho, J. J., & Shiao, J. S. (2019). Patient-nurse ratio is related to nurses’ intention to leave their job through mediating factors of burnout and job dissatisfaction. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(23), 4801. Web.

Malatji, M., Ally, H., & Makhene, A. (2017). Nurses experiences regarding staffing patterns in the surgical wards of a private hospital in Gauteng South Africa. Health Sa Gesondheid, 22(1), 325-332. Web.

McHugh, M. D., Aiken, L. H., Sloane, D. M., Windsor, C., Douglas, C., & Yates, P. (2021). Effects of nurse-to-patient ratio legislation on nurse staffing and patient mortality, readmissions, and length of stay: a prospective study in a panel of hospitals. The Lancet, 397(10288), 1905-1913. Web.

Shin, S., Park, J. H., & Bae, S. H. (2018). Nurse staffing and nurse outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Nursing Outlook, 66(3), 273-282. Web.

Wynendaele, H., Willems, R., & Trybou, J. (2019). Systematic review: Association between the patient–nurse ratio and nurse outcomes in acute care hospitals. Journal of Nursing Management, 27(5), 896-917. Web.

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