A Major Ethical Issue Of Safe Staffing In Nursing

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Safe Staffing in Nursing
The American Nurses Association’s State Government Affairs program monitors numerous nursing and healthcare related bills each year. They assess each bill for significance of relation to current healthcare issues and trends (American Nurses Association [ANA], 2015). One of the issues being addressed in 2015 is nurse staffing. This is not a new legislative issue, as it has been reviewed for several years now. Nurse staffing is taking center stage in the legislative arena because of the ongoing nursing shortage and the imminent retirement of many nurses. “Identifying and maintaining the appropriate number and mix of nursing staff is critical to the delivery of quality patient care. Numerous studies reveal an association
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Wunderlich, Sloan and Davis (1996) state, “Staffing ratios are essentially proxy measures for other organizational attributes of hospitals that grant nurse autonomy over their own practice and control of resources necessary to deliver patient care and create good relationships with physicians” (p. 10). When nurses are given the authority to decide appropriate staffing for current patients, better patient outcomes may occur. Nurses can be made to feel as though they do not have authority by physicians and hospital administration. When this occurs, a nurse’s autonomy is degraded. This lack of ethical judgment can deter nurses from advocating for adequate staffing to ensure excellent nursing care and proper patient safety (van Oostveen, Mathijssen, & Vermeulen, 2015, p. 1300). With adequate authority and autonomy, nurses can make sound ethical choices and use good judgment when it comes to proper staffing for the level of patient acuity. By empowering nurses to advocate for their patient’s safety and their own job integrity, nurse autonomy is employed. Oostveen, Mathijssen and Vermeulen (2015) state, “On the policy level, it would be helpful to re-open the discussion on formulating legislation regarding optimum nurse staffing levels” (p. 1309). To strengthen and promote autonomy in nursing, safe staffing practices need to be lobbied for on the state and national level. With the proper political backing, safe …show more content…
When pushing for legislation on the issue of safe staffing for nurses, state nurse associations must form strong relationships with these organizations. It is through these relationships the state nurse associations are able to gain the support needed for legislation. When advocating for legislation, the state nurse associations focus on areas of interest specific to the particular stakeholder. In the interest of hospital associations, presentations of patient safety and better patient outcomes as a result of safe staffing are points of interest. According to Staggs and Jianghua (2013), “Hospitals have been increasing RN staffing levels. We think that the attention given to nurse staffing over the past 2 decades has led to a greater appreciation of its importance among hospital administrators and the wider healthcare community” (p. 392). The better patient outcome causes patients to be happier with the care they received. With that happiness, patients are more likely to recommend the particular hospital to their family and friends bringing economical growth for the

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