Consequences of Inadequate Staffing Include Missed Care, Potential Failure to Rescue, and Job Stress and Dissatisfaction

J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2016 Jul-Aug;45(4):481-90. doi: 10.1016/j.jogn.2016.02.011. Epub 2016 May 25.


Objective: To evaluate responses of registered nurse members of the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) to a survey that sought their recommendations for staffing guidelines and their perceptions of the consequences of inadequate nurse staffing. The goal was to use these member data to inform the work of the AWHONN nurse staffing research team.

Design: Secondary analysis of responses to the 2010 AWHONN nurse staffing survey.

Setting: Online.

Participants: AWHONN members (N = 884).

Methods: Review of data from an online survey of AWHONN members through the use of thematic analysis for descriptions of the consequences of inadequate nurse staffing during the childbirth process.

Results: Three main themes emerged as consequences of inadequate staffing or being short-staffed: Missed Care, Potential for Failure to Rescue, and Job-Related Stress and Dissatisfaction. These themes are consistent with those previously identified in the literature related to inadequate nurse staffing.

Conclusion: Based on the responses from participants in the 2010 AWHONN nurse staffing survey, consequences of inadequate staffing can be quite serious and may put patients at risk for preventable harm.

Keywords: failure to rescue; job-related stress; missed care; nurse dissatisfaction; nurse staffing; perinatal nursing care; unfinished care.

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional / prevention & control
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Neonatal Nursing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Nurse's Role
  • Nurse-Patient Relations
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Parturition / psychology
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling / statistics & numerical data*
  • Workload / psychology*