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Linking Lower RN Staffing Higher Levels Admissions per RN and Increased Hospital Mortality

A new study published in BMJ Quality & Safety sought to determine the association between daily levels of registered nurse (RN) and nursing assistant staffing and hospital mortality in the UK.  The study focused on 138,133 adult patients spending more than 1 days on general wards between 1 April 2012 and 31 March 2015.  The study found the hazard of death was increased by 3% for every day a patient experienced RN staffing below ward mean.  Relative to ward mean, each additional hour of RN care available over the first 5 days of a patient’s stay was associated with 3% reduction in the hazard of death. Days where admissions per RN exceeded 125% of the ward mean were associated with an increased hazard of death. Although low nursing assistant staffing was associated with increases in mortality, high nursing assistant staffing was also associated with increased mortality.  The study concludes lower RN staffing and higher levels of admissions per RN are associated with increased risk of death during an admission to hospital. These findings highlight the possible consequences of reduced nurse staffing and do not give support to policies that encourage the use of nursing assistants to compensate for shortages of RNs.

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