Safe Staffing

Improve Care and Outcomes with Evidence-based Approaches to Safe Nurse Staffing


AMSN and its more than 13,000 members represent nurses who provide the care you and your loved ones receive in the hospital. As the only national professional organization representing the voice of medical-surgical nursing, our strategic mission for patients and their access to high-quality, affordable health care includes evidence-based approaches to safe nurse staffing in hospitals.

Safe staffing demands a local approach focused on patient acuity, nursing skills

While hospital care is traditionally viewed as nursing care, appropriate levels of nurse staffing depend on many factors. They include patient acuity; the skills, experience and education of the available nurses; and the physical characteristics of the floor or facility.

Medical-Surgical nurses say policy on nurse staffing should focus on evidence-based, local solutions led by the nurses responsible to deliver the care.

  • The acuity of patients – how much intervention they need from nurses, physicians and other health care professionals – is critical to determining effective and appropriate levels of nurse staffing in hospitals. Staffing should be based on patient need.
  • Patient care assignments should be made based on the medical-surgical nurse’s ability to meet needs of individual patients and not on predetermined staffing ratios.
  • One-size-fits-all mandatory nurse staffing ratios take decision-making responsibility out of the hands of nurses in favor of regulators and government agencies far from patient care. They impair flexibility needed for emergency response. They also increase costs and divert resources from other services necessary for quality patient care.


Research and collaboration are needed to ensure quality through safe nurse staffing

  • More evidence-based approaches to meeting patient needs are needed to better inform professional nurse staffing decision-making in hospitals.


AMSN Request
Authorize SAFE (State Assessment for Everyone) Staffing Care Boards made up of nurses, researchers, hospital officials and patient groups that examine data on hospital staffing, safety and efficiency, and publicly report on effective care delivery models.  Fund research to identify factors affecting nurse professional development and retention in hospitals, and use the evidence to promote effective staffing strategies.

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