Does the composition of hospital nurse staffing levels matter when it comes to preventing costly complications and death following those complications? A team at the University of California, led by Mary Blegen, Tom Vaughn (from the University of Iowa) and Colleen Goode (from the University of Colorado), examined the extent to which nurse staffing levels affected the incidence of complications and the failure to rescue from those complications, (i.e. death following complications). Their examination showed that nursing hours per patient day were strongly associated with lower rates of pressure ulcers and hospital acquired infections, and fewer deaths from complications. Further, more RN hours in the mix had additional benefit with still lower rates of failure to rescue and hospital acquired infections. Their work shows that higher levels of nursing hours per patient day and RN skill mix in intensive care units and in general units will lead to better patient outcomes, information that can guide states considering regulation of nurse-patient staffing ratios to address patient safety gaps.
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This post is part of a series to provide the public with research briefs on INQRI-funded projects across a range of interests.