How Hospital Whiteboards Help During Staffing Shortages

Jan 01, 2021

hospital nurse

Staffing shortages in healthcare are nothing new, but recent events have exacerbated the issue beyond anything we have seen before. Recent studies show that more than 1,000 hospitals across the country are experiencing staffing shortages, with more to be added to the list in the coming months. 21% of all hospitals reporting say they anticipate having critical staffing shortages very soon. It has become a near guarantee that a hospital will experience staffing shortage, which is why facilities are focusing on how to mitigate the effects of limited staff in order to keep morale high and provide the best patient treatment possible. 

In the past, thousands of facilities across the country have utilized hospital whiteboards—placed in patient rooms, nurses’ stations, labs, emergency departments, and other areas—to better track and treat patients during their stay. Their impact on patient satisfaction and care team efficiency is well documented, which is why they make an ideal solution for facilities facing staffing shortages. 


The Impacts of Short-Staffed Hospitals


Staffing shortages can lead to a number of negative outcomes for patients and available staff, including increases in: 

Patient falls: as care teams spend less time with patients, and call lights go unanswered, patients are forced to get out of bed and tend to their own needs, from going to the bathroom to retrieving items from across the room. This significantly increases falls and other risks of injury. 

Medication errors: even the most highly trained hospital staff can make mistakes when they are rushed. Staffing shortages force remaining healthcare workers to move quickly, which can increase the number of medication and other treatment errors that occur. 

Bed sores: when patients are less tended to, they are not moved and/or taken out of bed nearly as much as they need to be. This can increase the chances of them developing bed sores. 

Care team burnout: when staffing is limited, stress can be high. While the remaining healthcare staff generally step up to meet the challenge, working under these conditions can cause burnout over time. 

Patient dissatisfaction: increases in falls, bed sores, medication errors, and a general feeling of not being well cared for will inevitably increase patient dissatisfaction, leading to decreases in HCAHPS scores hospitals receive. 


How Whiteboards Can Help When Staff is Limited 


Implementing custom whiteboards can help when staff is short in many ways: 

Reducing patient falls: custom whiteboards can be designed to designate fall risks for patients and to inform patients of those risks. Whiteboards act as a gentle reminder to patients to call for help if they need to use the bathroom or otherwise get out of bed. 

Reduce medication errors and bed sores: when used in nurses’ stations, whiteboards promote coordination and organization among nurses to help reduce sentinel events like medication errors. Nurses can easily keep track of patients’ medication schedules using timetables that are laid out on the whiteboard. Whiteboards can also be used to keep track of the last time a patient was seen/serviced by a nurse, including if they were moved or taken out of bed, which will eliminate the issue of bed sores. 

Reduce care team burnout: increased communication and coordination between nursing staff, physicians, and other care team members will lead to a more organized, less stressful environment. This can help avoid burnout and reduce the stress that is felt by care team members. 

Increase patient satisfaction: better service leads to better patient outcomes and satisfaction. Patient room whiteboards have long been associated with increases in HCAHPS scores, with patients citing more communication with healthcare providers and a better understanding of their treatment plans as major areas of improvement. 


Healthcare whiteboards can promote efficiency in your facility and help staff communicate better with patients on a day-to-day basis. Discover how easy it is to design a custom whiteboard with Ghent Healthcare today.