Nurse Retention and Nurse Retention: Improving Patient Care and Outcomes

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, September 2nd, 2014

Both the quality and quantity of nurses on a hospital staff have significant influence on whether the patient will survive, even after simple surgery, according to a large new study. This underlines the fact that effective nurse retention and nurse recruitment are necessary to create the best patient care.

Researchers found the proportion of staff nurses with a bachelor’s degree and the number of patients each nurse had to care for could add up to a difference of 30% or more in mortality rates for inpatients.

“If you go to a hospital in a developed country like the U.S. or UK, you think you’d get equal care, but that’s really not the case,” said the study’s lead author, Linda Aiken, a professor of nursing and director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Aiken and her team found that for every 10 percent increase in the number of staff nurses with a bachelors degree, there was a 7 percent lower risk of patient death within a month of being admitted to the hospital. On the other hand, boosting a nurse’s workload by one patient increased the likelihood of an inpatient dying within 30 days of admission by 7 percent.

nurses and patient careTheir study used medical data on more than 422,000 patients over the age of 50, collected between 2007 and 2009 as part of RN4CAST, an effort funded by the European Commission to gather information about the nursing workforce from 488 hospitals in 12 European countries. The patients had undergone common surgeries, such as an appendectomy, knee replacements, or gallbladder removal, which are not linked to a high risk of death but still require a stay in the hospital afterwards. The research team also took into account the patients’ preexisting health problems.

Surveys of more than 26,000 nurses working in the hospitals were also part of RN4CAST, and measured the professional nurses’ education levels, along with the usual number of patients each nurse was expected to take care of during his or her shift.

The difference in patient deaths between nurses with and without a bachelors degree likely stems from the nurses’ abilities to think critically and discuss patient care freely with other hospital staff, such as physicians, Aiken said.

The results are particularly relevant as hospitals and policymakers look to decrease costs – sometimes by cutting nursing staff. Such decisions may be short-sighted and threaten patient safety down the road.

To learn more ways to improve patient care and outcome and increase nurse retention and nurse recruitment efforts, visit SelfCare for HealthCare™. Contact me today to customize this powerful program that improves the overall health of your facility.

One response to “Nurse Retention and Nurse Retention: Improving Patient Care and Outcomes”

  1. Mark Graban says:

    It’s not just the NUMBER of nurses that matters. What’s really important is the amount of time they have at the bedside with patients.

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