Factors Related to Nurse Staffing Levels in Tertiary and General Hospitals

  • Kim Yun Mi (Department of Nursing, Seoul Health College) ;
  • June Kyung Ja (Department of Nursing, Soonchunhyang University) ;
  • Cho Sung-Hyun (Department of Nursing, Hanyang University)
  • Published : 2005.12.01


Background. Adequate staffing is necessary to meet patient care needs and provide safe, quality nursing care. In November 1999, the Korean government implemented a new staffing policy that differentiates nursing fees for inpatients based on nurse-to-bed ratios. The purpose was to prevent hospitals from delegating nursing care to family members of patients or paid caregivers, and ultimately deteriorating the quality of nursing care services. Purpose. To examine nurse staffing levels and related factors including hospital, nursing and medical staff, and financial characteristics. Methods. A cross-sectional design was employed using two administrative databases, Medical Care Institution Database and Medical Claims Data for May 1-31, 2002. Nurse staffing was graded from 1 to 6, based on grading criteria of nurse-to-bed ratios provided by the policy. The study sample consisted of 42 tertiary and 186 general acute care hospitals. Results. None of tertiary or general hospitals gained the highest nurse staffing of Grade 1 (i.e., less than 2 beds per nurse in tertiary hospitals; less than 2.5 beds per nurse in general hospitals). Two thirds of the general hospitals had the lowest staffing of Grade 6 (i.e., 4 or more beds per nurse in tertiary hospitals; 4.5 or more beds per nurse in general hospitals). Tertiary hospitals were better staffed than general hospitals, and private hospitals had higher staffing levels compared to public hospitals. Large-sized general hospitals located in metropolitan areas had higher staffing than other general hospitals. Occupancy rate was positively related to nurse staffing. A negative relationship between nursing assistant and nurse staffing was found in general hospitals. A greater number of physician specialists were associated with better nurse staffing. Conclusions. The staffing policy needs to be evaluated and modified to make it more effective in leading hospitals to increase nurse staffing.



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