Making the most of our precious nursing resources

December 06, 2005

Hospitals could save hundreds of thousands of dollars, improve patient care and allocate fairer nursing workloads if they rostered nurses according to patients' needs instead of by ratios, a Monash researcher has found.

Many hospitals worldwide use a range of ratio systems but Victoria is the only state in Australia that uses mandated ratios to allocate nurses in public hospitals.

Dr Virginia Plummer from the School of Nursing and Midwifery has completed a study of almost two million nursing hours in Australia and overseas. The study involved measuring the allocation of nursing resources in hospitals and found that, in many instances, TrendCare - an Australian computer system that allocates nurses across wards depending on patient needs - better met the needs of hospitals.

Mandated nurse-patient ratios were introduced to Victorian public hospitals five years ago as one of several strategies to recruit nurses back to the hospitals.

However, Dr Plummer's study has found that TrendCare predicts nursing care requirements with greater accuracy than ratios for all hospital settings and patient conditions in public and private hospitals and metropolitan and rural hospitals of all sizes in Australia and New Zealand. The study also found similar results in several Thai hospitals.

Mandated ratios could not take into account the needs of individual patients or the variable workload of nurses and could not be quickly changed if needed, Dr Plummer found. "If patients require higher levels of care, wards with nurses caring for these patients are not generally allocated more staff under the current Victorian system," she said.

"Under the TrendCare system there is a closer correlation between the needs of a patient and the care provided," said Dr Plummer. "If a patient's condition alters, or there is a sudden influx of patients after a major accident or incident, the TrendCare system can immediately identify the required staffing arrangements".

Dr Plummer said the introduction of nurse patient ratios to Victoria had allowed nurses to regain confidence and control over their working conditions and that this had resulted in a stabilisation of the Victorian public hospital system.

However, observers were now keen to see a closer analysis of nurse patient ratios and dependency systems in a stable health service, she said. This information could be used to contribute to better quality patient care, enhanced workplace satisfaction for nurses and reduction in the costs of care.
For further information or to arrange interviews, contact Diane Squires in the Media Communications office on 613-9-905-9315 or 041-760-3400.

Research Australia

Related Nurses Articles from Brightsurf:

Nurses burned out and want to quit
A survey of nurses caring for children with heart problems has revealed that more than half are emotionally exhausted.

Work-related PTSD in nurses
A recent Journal of Clinical Nursing analysis of published studies examined the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among nurses and identified factors associated with work-related PTSD among nurses.

PA school nurses on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic
As opioid overdoses continue to grab headlines, more states are providing their communities with easier access to naloxone, which can prevent death by reversing opioid overdoses.

Paying attention to complaints can protect nurses from violence
New UBC research shows, for the first time, a clear link between patient complaints and violence towards nurses.

Social networking sites affect nurses' performance
Addiction to social networking sites reduces nurses' performance and affects their ability to concentrate on assigned tasks, according to a study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Are american nurses prepared for a catastrophe? New study says perhaps not
On average, American colleges and universities with nursing programs offer about one hour of instruction in handling catastrophic situations such as nuclear events, pandemics, or water contamination crises, according to two recent studies coauthored by a nursing professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Gender bias continues in recognition of physicians and nurses
A new study has shown that patients are significantly more likely to correctly identify male physicians and female nurses, demonstrating continuing gender bias in the health care environment.

How nurses bring clarity to the nature of social change
History provides an enhanced understanding of the factors that inform social policy.

When tempers flare, nurses' injuries could rise
A new study by researchers at Michigan State University and Portland State University has found that when there's an imbalance in support among nurses at work, tempers flare and risk of injuries can go up.

New nurses work overtime, long shifts, and sometimes a second job
New nurses are predominantly working 12-hour shifts and nearly half work overtime, trends that have remained relatively stable over the past decade, finds a new study by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing.

Read More: Nurses News and Nurses Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to