Another example is discharge prevention programs that call for a focus on high-risk patients. Those programs might be well-intended, but "if there aren't enough nurses to go around to begin with, you're adding this onto the daily work that the nurses already have to do," McHugh says.
"All of those things depend upon having an adequate number of nurses at the bedside to deliver them," he says. "If that foundation isn't there, none of these other kinds of things have a good chance of success."
In other words, hospitals can invest heavily in new programs and technologies, but without skilled professionals there to run them, to interpret the information, and to implement interventions, that investment will be undermined.
"I think these [programs] are all essential and important. I just think there's a higher level of their success in the real world if there's enough staff to implement them," McHugh says. "You can't ignore the delivery process, and that delivery process is people."