There is no dispute that staffing is the number one concern of every health care provider right now. Most organizations can’t find enough people to work, so senior leadership is being forced to take a much more active role in providing direct care. The burnout factor is sky high, and sometimes it feels like there is no end in sight. I have been asked on more than one occasion about whether an organization can stop enforcing its policies for things like quality, med errors, documentation, etc. because if they discipline someone when they violate a policy, the person will quit and staffing issues just get worse.
The current staffing situation begs the following question: Is it better to follow every rule, regulation, and policy and lose staff, or is it better to “look the other way” and keep enough people working to hold things together? This is a hard issue every organization must face. All I will say is I have never seen a law that provides an exemption for when staffing is short. By using a root cause analysis process, a provider has an opportunity to determine if there is a process issue that is leading to mistakes. It is easy to assume that when mistakes are made they are the result of laziness or inattentiveness, or even the work load of employees, but looking at the employee, rather than the process, prohibits finding a solution to the problem.
Hopefully the staff shortage turns around soon; for the health of many providers, it has to turn around. In the meantime, a focus on quality is never a bad decision.