Providing enough staff to meet patients’ needs is an essential requirement for all hospitals. Psychiatric staffing levels must take into account patients’ risk of violence and suicide as well as their medical needs, which tend to be higher than the general population. Research suggests that higher levels of staffing lead to better patient outcomes. At the corporate level, UHS executives believe that staffing expenses are a key target for cutting costs to increase profits. When talking about how to increase profit margins at newly acquired facilities, the CFO has said,
“When you really talk about the management of expenses and behavioral, one, one-A, one-B, and one-C are all salary and related expenses. So for sure, when you talk about a gap in our margins, a good chunk of that has to come from a more efficient use of people, headcount, people in the right positions, etc., and frankly, that’s a big part of our focus going into it.” – (UHS Conference Call at RBC 03/02/11)
The examples below show instances where UHS facilities have been cited by regulatory agencies for inadequate staffing and where employees and patients have said there was not enough staff at their facility.