Nurse education and workload affect patient mortality

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Nurse Education, Workload Impact Patient Post-Op Mortality
Nurse Education, Workload Impact Patient Post-Op Mortality

(HealthDay News) -- Nurse staffing and education are associated with in-hospital mortality after common surgical procedures, according to a study published online Feb. 26 in The Lancet.

Linda H. Aiken, Ph.D., from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in Philadelphia, and colleagues conducted an observational study to assess whether nurse staffing and education correlate with in-hospital mortality after common surgical procedures. Discharge data were reviewed for 422,730 patients who underwent common surgeries. Patients were aged 50 years or older and from 300 hospitals in nine European countries. A total of 26,516 nurses practicing at the study hospitals were surveyed to assess nurse staffing and education.

The researchers found that the likelihood of an inpatient dying within 30 days of admission increased by 7 percent with each increase in a nurses' workload by one patient (odds ratio, 1.068; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.031 to 1.106) and decreased by 7 percent for every 10 percent increase in bachelor's degree nurses (odds ratio, 0.929; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.886 to 0.973). Compared with hospitals in which only 30 percent of nurses had bachelor's degrees and nurses care for an average of eight patients, mortality would be almost 30 percent lower for patients at hospitals in which 60 percent of nurses had bachelor's degrees and nurses care for an average of six patients.

"In summary, educational qualifications of nurses and patient-to-nurse staffing ratios seem to have a role in the outcomes of hospital patients in Europe," the authors write.

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