R&D News: UCLA research shows that higher patient turnover affects mortality rate
The study also found that when nurses' workloads increase during shifts because of high patient turnover, mortality risk also increases.
Nurses are the front-line caregivers to hospital patients, coordinating and providing direct care and delivering it safely and reliably. The goal for any hospital is to ensure that each of its patient-care units has an adequate number of nurses during every shift.
Ideally, the proper number of hours nurses work - known as the target level - should be adjusted each shift, depending on the ebb and flow of patients and their need for care. Too many nurses can be costly for hospitals; too few can put patients' health in danger.
For the study, first author Jack Needleman, a professor of health services at UCLAâ€™s School of Public Health, and his colleagues analyzed the records of nearly 198,000 admitted patients and 177,000 eight-hour nursing shifts across 43 patient-care units at a large tertiary academic medical center in the US.
As part of their comprehensive analysis, the researchers calculated the difference between the target nurse-staffing level and the actual nurse-staffing level for each shift they examined.
The researchers found that for each shift patients were exposed to that was substantially understaffed - falling eight or more hours below the target level - patients' overall mortality risk increased by two percent.
Because the average patient in the study was exposed to three nursing shifts that fell below target levels, the mortality risk for these patients was about six percent higher than for patients on units that were always fully staffed.
The study also found that when nurses' workloads increase because of high patient turnover - individual units, mortality risk also increases. For each shift a patient experienced in which turnover - due to admissions, discharges and transfers - was substantially higher than usual, the risk of mortality was four percent higher. The average patient in the study was exposed to one high-turnover shift.
Have your say and discuss with your peers on the InfoGrok community.