Background data: Limited research has been conducted examining the effect of nurse staffing models on costs and patient outcomes.
Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of different nurse staffing models on costs and the patient outcomes of patient falls, medication errors, wound infections, and urinary tract infections.
Methods: A descriptive correlational study was conducted in all of the 19 teaching hospitals in Ontario, Canada. The sample comprised hospitals and adult medical, surgical, and obstetric inpatients within those hospitals.
Results: The lower the proportion of professional nursing staff employed on a unit, the higher the number of medication errors and wound infections. The less experienced the nurse, the higher the number of wound infections. Nurse staffing models that included a lower proportion of professional nursing staff in the mix used more nursing hours in this study.
Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that a higher proportion of professional nurses in the staff mix (RNs/RPNs) on medical and surgical units in Ontario teaching hospitals are associated with lower rates of medication errors and wound infections. Higher patient complexity was associated with greater patient use of nursing care resources.