Are Temporary Nurses More Cost-Effective Than Overtime?

A Columbia University study suggests that hospitals can cut their costs and improve the quality of patient care by paying overtime instead of hiring temporary nurses, but other recent studies tell a different story.

The study, which focused on 900,000 admissions in the Veterans Administration health system over the last four years, correlated shorter patient stays with lower costs and better treatment. Researchers also suggested that paying overtime to a core staff of nurses resulted in more positive results than bringing in temporary nurses because of the “rhythm and routines” they establish.

Columbia’s conclusions counter those of a 2012 Penn State study, as well as a different Columbia study published last year. The results of both studies indicated that poor hospital environments are the greater contributor to adverse patient outcomes, regardless of the employment status of the nurses. The Penn study went even further and cited the hiring of temporary nurse staff as a potentially life-saving move – and, at least, that their use “does not appear to have deleterious consequences for patient mortality”.

A co-leader of the earlier Columbia study pointed out in a press release that temporary nurses are often scapegoated for lower patient outcomes that result from poor work environments that turn away qualified permanent staff. Dr. JingJing Shang also touted the benefits of a traveling nurse arrangement that creates ongoing assignments for nurses in the same facility.

Other potential issues with Columbia’s cost-benefit analysis include the potential for nurses working overtime to make costly and life-threatening errors because of burnout, a result that may be mitigated by using temporary nurse staffing.

PRN Funding has offered exceptional cash flow solutions to temporary nurse staffing agencies for more than a decade. To learn more about healthcare factoring for temporary nurse staffing and receive an application, contact us today!

Hospitals Taking Steps to Avoid Patient Falls

For weak and elderly hospital patients, a fall while in the hospital can extend a hospital stay or, in some cases, cost a patient his life. Hospitals nationwide are responding to this glaring safety concern with a blended approach between technology and human care.

To reduce the number of falls, deemed “never events” (as in, they should never happen in the hospital), many hospitals are relying on high-pitched bed alarms to alert nursing staff when a patient is up from their bed. The alarms use weight-sensitive pads in a bed or chair that emit a noticeable alert when they detect a decrease in pressure.

A study led by Ron Shorr at the University of Florida late last year, however, demonstrates that reliance on bed alarms is simply not enough to reduce the number of falls in a hospital. In a blind comparison of 16 hospital units in which eight units used bed alarms and eight units relied on standard care, there was more than one fall fewer per 1,000 patients in the units relying on standard care procedures. The results are not significant enough to blame bed alarms for more falls, but do call into question the contention that they result in fewer falls.

Nurses cite understaffing as a larger concern that results in other hospital risks. They argue that there is no replacement for capable nurse care. After all, an alarm is only effective if there is a nurse to respond, and hospitals that have increased their staff and provided comprehensive safety training have drastically reduced the number of falls they experience without the added technology.

Nurse staffing agencies are uniquely poised to help hospitals add vital staff to their units, but many may find it difficult to thrive when waiting on extended payments. PRN Funding’s nurse staffing factoring program converts your open invoices to immediate cash that you can use to hire nurses, pay your expenses, and pursue lucrative new contracts with hospitals in need.

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Nurse Staffing Levels Make the Difference in Patient Care

Nurse and author Theresa Brown illustrates a critical element of hospital care in The New York Times: the availability or lack of proper nurse staffing. A properly-staffed hospital floor – one with a manageable nurse to patient ratio – allows nurses to fulfill their more mundane responsibilities without sacrificing their role as first responders to patient issues. An improperly-staffed floor, however, will see larger numbers of patient injury and infection. For patients, adequate nurse staffing can make the difference between life and death.

A House bill introduced in April cites research that directly links nurse staffing levels to patient outcomes, in terms of patient satisfaction as well as patient mortality and cost to healthcare providers. Despite nurses comprising a hospital’s largest labor cost subset, hospitals can more than offset the cost by avoiding a number of far more costly “adverse patient events” that may result from low staff levels.

While there is concern that hospitals will balk against potential regulation of this kind, hospital executives by and large are more worried about the quality of patient care than about the cost. Hiring temporary nurses is as costly as employing permanent staff, but it may provide the opportunity to avoid many of the hidden costs associated with permanent employees – especially an estimated 12-13 percent of costs associated with non-productive time.

The need for capable, talented nurses will only continue to rise, and temporary nurse staffing agencies are well poised to expand their business by filling open positions. PRN Funding has the tools to help your staffing agency grow while maintaining a steady cash flow.

Find out more about PRN Funding’s nurse staffing factoring programs.