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Study: Patient Satisfaction Depends on Nurse Staffing Levels

  • Article by:Health Career Center

ach hospital has different priorities when it comes to spending its budget. With all the demands on today’s health care organization related to improving everything from quality to outcomes to satisfaction and costs, those priorities are sure to be scrutinized more than ever.

Where should your hospital allocate its resources? According to a recent study by the University of Pennsylvania, smart organizations concentrate it in one area above all others: Nursing.

The prestigious Ivy League university distributed a survey with help from researchers at England’s University of Southampton and King’s College London. It asked 66,348 patients in both the U.S. and Europe to rate their latest hospital visit according to a variety of factors. Then, it asked them to rate their hospital’s care quality overall.

Together, they found that availability of qualified RNs is the single biggest factor affecting hospitals’ overall scores related to patients’ satisfaction with the quality of care they receive. When patients feel like there aren’t enough nurses to attend to their needs, they view every aspect of the hospital in a more negative light.

Here’s the worrisome part of the survey’s findings: As the nursing shortage is just beginning, 40 percent of patients already feel that the number of nurses is falling short of expectations. One in 10 reported that there were “never or rarely enough” nurses during their last hospital stay. And out of those, only 14 percent graded their care as “excellent.”

“Things get missed, patients notice, and this affects their confidence in the quality of the hospital and the care they receive,” said the University of Southampton’s Peter Griffiths.

Griffiths should know — working in England, he’s had a front row seat as the number of British nurses has dropped to one of the lowest levels among European countries. He’s noticed that nurses around the country echo his sentiments, with 65 percent reporting that high workloads prevent them from spending enough time with patients.

Still, he’s quick to point out that simply hiring more people isn’t a real solution. Only an influx of well-trained and highly qualified talent will be able to reverse patients’ perception that their hospitals’ care quality is lacking, both in Europe and the U.S.

On the upside, the looming shortage of nurses means less competition and more attractive compensation packages for jobseekers. To take advantage of the job market now, visit and browse available jobs in your area.

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