Research| Volume 44, ISSUE 4, P394-401, July 2018

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The Impact of Emergency Department RN Staffing on ED Patient Experience

Published:February 22, 2018DOI:



      Patient experience ratings are important to health care organizations from both a clinical and financial perspective. Studies examining the relationship between patient experience and nurse staffing are prevalent in the inpatient setting, but not as much is known about how staffing affects these ratings in the emergency department.


      Using responses from 3,120 adult patients who visited the emergency department of a large academic medical center in the southeastern United States between March 1, 2015, and November 30, 2015, this study examined the relationships between ED RN staffing and patient experience ratings. Ordinal logistic regression models were used to examine the relationship between 2 nurse staffing variables and patient ratings of care.


      Overall, higher levels of RN staffing in the emergency department were associated with better patient ratings of their care experiences, but the strength and significance of this relationship varied as a function of different factors (eg, how staffing is measured, discharge status of the patient).


      Higher levels of ED RNs may enable nurses to better meet the expectations of patients presenting to the emergency department, highlighting a number of opportunities for allocating nursing resources.
      Contribution to Emergency Nursing Practice
      • Outlines research that was conducted to examine the impact of ED RN staffing on ED patient experience scores.
      • Such research informs nursing management and hospital leadership about potential ways to best use staffing resources to ensure optimal patient experience.


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      Deana Nelson, Member, ENA, is Senior Vice President, Administration and Chief Strategy Officer, Lakeland Regional Health, Lakeland, FL.


      Larry R. Hearld is Associate Professor, Department of Health Services Administration, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL.


      David Wein is Chief of Emergency Medicine, Tampa General Hospital, System Medical Director, Team Health, and Associate Professor, University of South Florida, Morsani College of Medicine, Tampa, FL.