Research suggests that changes in nurse roles can compromise perceived organizational safety. However, over the past 15 years, many infusion tasks have been reallocated from specialty nurse infusion teams to individual generalist nurses—a process we call infusion task reallocation. These changes purportedly benefit employees by allowing care providers to practice at the “top of their license.” However, job demands–resources theory suggests that changing core task arrangements can either enrich or merely enlarge jobs depending on their effects on demands and resources, with corresponding consequences for performance (e.g., safety). There is relatively little research directly exploring these effects and their mechanisms.
This study examines the relationship between infusion task reallocation and perceptions of organizational safety. We also explore the extent to which this relationship may be mediated by infusion-related resources and psychological safety.
Data were collected through a survey of 623 nurses from 580 U.S. hospitals. The relationship between infusion task reallocation and perceptions of organizational safety, as well as the potential mediating roles of infusion-related resources and psychological safety, was examined using structural equation modeling.
Infusion task reallocation was negatively associated with respondents’ perceptions of organizational safety, with nurses working in organizations without an infusion team indicating lower perceptions of organizational safety than nurses working in organizations with an infusion team. This relationship was mediated by nurse perceptions of psychological safety within the organization, but not by infusion-related resources, suggesting that task reallocation is associated with lower perceived organizational safety because nurses feel less psychologically safe rather than because of perceived technical constraints.
The results indicate that, although infusion task reallocation may be a cost-reducing approach to managing clinical responsibilities, it enlarges rather than enriches the job through higher demands and fewer resources for nurses and, in turn, lower perceived organizational safety.