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Better nurse staffing and education reduces patient deaths in European hospitals
Date:2/25/2014

The Lancet reported today the results of a study in 9 European countries documenting that hospital nurse staffing and the proportion of nurses with bachelors education are associated with significantly fewer deaths after common surgery. A team of researchers led by the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in the U.S. and Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, found that every one patient increase in patient to nurse ratios was associated with a 7% increase in deaths, while having a better educated nurse workforce is associated with fewer deaths. Every 10% increase in bachelors degree nurses is associated with a 7% decline in mortality.

This study of close to a half million surgical patients in 300 hospitals found that patients in hospitals in which 60 percent of nurses had bachelors degrees and cared for an average of six patients had nearly a one-third lower risk of death after common inpatient surgical procedures than patients in hospitals where half as many nurses had bachelors degrees and cared for an average of eight patients each. The RN4CAST study, funded by the European Union and the National Institute of Nursing Research, National Institutes of Health, concluded that in Europe, as in the U.S., failing to invest in bachelors nurse education and attempts to cut costs by reducing nurse staffing may put hospitalized patients at greater risk of dying.

Our results suggest that the assumption that hospital nurse staffing can be reduced to save money without adversely affecting patient outcomes may be foolish at best, and fatal at worst, said Linda H. Aiken, Professor of Nursing and Sociology, and Director of the

Contact: Linda H. Aiken
laiken@nursing.upenn.edu
University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
Source:Eurekalert  

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