The impact of nurse staffing on hospital costs and patient length of stay: a systematic review

Nurs Econ. Sep-Oct 2007;25(5):255-65.


Research examining the relationships between nurse staffing, hospital costs, and length of stay is varied using a range of methods and definitions. This lack of coherence in definitions and measurement tools for cost and length of stay makes it difficult to conclude with certainty the results of nurse staffing on hospital cost and length of stay. However, the evidence reflected that significant reductions in cost and length of stay may be possible with higher ratios of nursing personnel in hospital settings. Sufficient numbers of RNs may prevent patient adverse events that cause patients to stay longer than necessary. Patient costs were also reduced with greater RN staffing as RNs have higher knowledge and skill levels to provide more effective nursing care as well as reduce patient resource consumption. Hospital administrators are encouraged to use higher ratios of RNs to non-licensed personnel to achieve their objectives of quality patient outcomes and cost containment.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cost Control
  • Data Collection
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Hospital Costs / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay* / economics
  • Nursing Administration Research / organization & administration*
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling / organization & administration*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care
  • Research Design
  • Workload / economics