Patient transfers in Australia: Implications for nursing workload and patient outcomes

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Nursing Management, 2012, 20 (3), pp. 302 - 310
Issue Date:
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Aim To discuss the impact of patient transfers on patient outcomes and nursing workload. Background Many patient transfers are essential and occur in response to patients' clinical changes. However, increasingly within Australia transfers are performed in response to reductions in bed numbers, resulting in 'bed block'. Evaluation A discussion of the literature related to inpatient transfers, nursing workload and patient safety. Key issues Measures to increase patient flow such as short-stay units may result in an increase in patient transfers and nursing workload. Frequent patient transfers may also increase the risk of medication incidents, health-care acquired infections and patient falls. Conclusions The continuing demand for health care has led to a reactionary bed management system that, in an attempt to accommodate patients, has resulted in increased transfers between wards. This can have a negative effect on nursing workload and affect patient outcomes. Implications for nursing management High nursing workload is cited as one reason for nurses leaving the profession. Reductions in non-essential transfers may reduce nurse workload, improve patient outcomes and enhance continuity of patient care. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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