Health care facilities, such as hospitals, need to streamline operational expenses, just like any other business. In a bid to minimize expenses, most administrators and managers hire a lean workforce to try and improve efficiency of operations. This may make sense in business, but in health care facilities, the opposite is true. On paper, hiring fewer nurses and staff may seem effective in cutting costs, however, having fewer nurses can actually be costlier than hiring additional nurses and support staff.
Studies have shown there is an 84% increase in the cost of care for patients who developed pneumonia while in the hospital. When fewer nurses are hired, they operate under immense pressure, which lowers their productivity. This, in turn, puts their patients at risk of complications such as developing pressure ulcers, which can cost up to $8.5 billion every year to manage. When patients have enough nurses to take care of them, they have better outcomes. Examples of this are the reductions in the rate of onsite infections and complications such as urinary tract infections (reduced by 25%), cardiac arrest (reduced by 7%-13%), hospital acquired pneumonia (reduced by 17%), and upper gastrointestinal bleeding (reduced by 17%).
To put this into perspective, hiring an additional registered nurse would contribute $9,900 annually to national productivity. The total savings attributed to hiring an additional registered nurse adds up to $60,000 annually as a result of reduced medical costs and improved national productivity. To learn why, checkout the following infographic created by the Adventist University of Health Sciences’ Online RN BSN program.
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Like other businesses, hospitals try to reduce costs. The path of least resistance can be cutting staff, specifically nurses. However, experts have long believed — and recent studies show — that increasing nursing staff not only saves lives but improves the cost effectiveness of care by shortening hospital stays and preempting expensive complications.
REDUCTION IN RATES:
7 ADDITIONAL LIVES WOULD BE SAVED FOR EVERY 100 PATIENTS IF NURSE NUMBERS INCREASED FROM FOUR TO SIX PER BED
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
EACH ADDITIONAL PATIENT CARE RN EMPLOYED WOULD GENERATE OVER $60,000 ANNUALLY IN REDUCED MEDICAL COSTS AND IMPROVED NATIONAL PRODUCTIVITY
RAISING THE PROPORTION OF RNs WITHOUT CHANGING LICENSED HOURS AT AN ESTIMATED COST OF $811 MILLION WOULD PRODUCE AN ESTIMATED SHORT-TERM SAVINGS OF $242 MILLION