Wanna get out of the hospital alive? Well, the nursing staff has a lot to do with it. Now a study finds that a patient’s risk of dying goes up along with the number of work shifts that a hospital is understaffed in nurses. The research was published in The New England Journal of Medicine. [Jack Needleman et al., "Nurse Staffing and Inpatient Hospital Mortality"]
The study included almost 198,000 patients, during nearly 177,000 eight-hour nursing shifts.
The research team originally reported that hospital nurse staffing was tied to patients’ outcomes a decade ago. That study was challenged because data were collected at several institutions, and thus had numerous possibly confounding variables. In the current study, all data were collected at a single, large academic medical center in the U.S.
The researchers found that a patient’s risk of death increased by about two percent for each work shift that was what the researchers categorized as understaffed. Patients in the study averaged three such shifts, which meant that their risk of dying increased by more than six percent compared with patients with access to fully staffed nursing teams. So when it comes to nurses it’s about quality—and quantity.
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