Nursing Deficiencies – Healthcare Economist

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the worst part of the pandemic is largely over (see NYT chart) with more people getting vaccinated. It would be expected that as the vaccine spreads and cases decrease, interest in the nursing profession will increase and those who have left nursing due to COVID-19 may return. It turns out that this logic is not exactly correct. According to an article on Vox:

Covid-19 may no longer be on the rise in the United States, but American hospitals are still experimenting a personnel crisis which is putting critical care for patients at risk.
Hospitals across the country are struggling, especially those in low population areas … Nearly 99 percent of rural hospitals surveyed said they experienced a staff shortage; 96% of them said they had a harder time finding nurses.

Nearly half of the hospitals in the survey said staffing problems have prevented them from accepting new patients in the past 60 days. One in four hospitals said a lack of nurses forced them to suspend some services, including, according to Michael Topchik, national leader of the Chartis Center for Rural Health: neonatal delivery, chemotherapy and colonoscopies. Another in five said they were considering it.

Not only is staff decreasing, but the cost of hiring nurses is also increasing.

According to a September study commissioned by the American Hospital Association, the average labor costs for each discharged patient grew by 14% in 2021, although the number of full-time employees fell by 4%.

Burnout due to the COVID-19 emergency is certainly a key problem. Additionally, patients who postponed care during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic are now seeking the treatments they previously postponed. In addition, hospitals are increasingly relying on traveling nurses rather than permanent staffing, which is also driving up costs.

For more details, read the full article.


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