Short-staffing linked to missed care, study finds


It sounds pretty obvious, but a study by an international team in the Journal of Advanced Nursing has found a link between understaffing and reported incidents of missed care.

The study, called The Association between Nurse Staffing and Omissions of Care, was conducted in inpatient medical and surgical wards across Europe, Asia and the USA.

It found overwhelming evidence of an association between lower levels of staffing and reports of missed care. For instance, the study found that in eight of the European studies, 75% of nurses reported missing at least one element of necessary care on their last shift.

Further, the study also found that in wards where there was a higher nurse-to-patient ratio, the odds of missing care increased.

Instances of missed care included emotional support and education, patient mobility and mouth care, as well as proper assessment and documentation.

These tasks are critical to the provision of proper care to patients, and their omission can lead to poorer patient outcomes or mistakes being made.

It’s further evidence that safe nurse-to-patient ratios are needed across the board. Safe staffing reduces missed care – and puts patient safety first.

You can read the report on the National Institute for Health Research website here.

You can pledge your support the campaign for safe nurse-to-patient ratios here.


  1. Just learned first hand the staff shortages and over worked nurses having been a patient in 2 hospitals. Poor nurses, so caring but often worn out

  2. Well duh! As a nurse for 52 years I can absolutely guarantee you, without any further “studies” that short-staffing will definitely result in missed care! Instead of trying to achieve “customer satisfaction” like hospitals are motels, provide enough nurses! And allow the patients to stay long enough for the nurses to use their skills to get their patients well, at the highest level possible. Then your “satisfaction surveys” will be through the roof! There is nothing like compassionate, empathetic NURSING CARE, not “services” to make a patient well! Patients love it!

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