A new study in the International Journal of Nursing Studies finds that higher staffing levels for doctors and nurses in intensive care units (ICUs) are associated with higher survival rates for patients at high risk for death. The report, titled “Nurse staffing, medical staffing and mortality in Intensive Care: an observational study,” examines whether the number of nurses, doctors, and support staff affected the survival chances of critically ill patients in both the ICU and the hospital, HealthCanal reports.
Researchers reviewed information on nearly 40,000 patients from 65 ICUs in the United Kingdom. Among the findings, higher numbers of nurses per bed were associated with higher survival rates, and the number of nurses had the greatest impact on patients at a high risk of death when compared to other medical staffing levels.
An INQRI-funded study on the impact of nursing staffing on hospital performance revealed that increasing the number of registered nurse (RN) hours per patient day increased the quality of patient care. The study looked in particular at patients who were being treated for acute myocardial infarction, pneumonia or heart failure.) For all three conditions, increasing the number of RN hours increased the quality of care. This did not hold true for increasing the number of licensed practical nurse or nursing assistant hours.
The study's authors—Gestur Davidson, Ira Moscovice, and Kathy Belk—posited that RNs are involved in and directly affect procedures, practices and processes that directly influence patient outcomes. This was the first study into how nurse staffing affects hospital performance on quality metrics used in the Premier Hospital Quality Demonstration project. It is reviewed in a research brief on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation website.