Better patient outcomes with qualified nurses

Research confirms that better patient outcomes come with higher numbers of RNs.

A ground-breaking study into nurse workloads in NSW public hospital medical and surgical wards, released in 2007, provided ample evidence that an increase in the number of RNs would greatly improve patient care.

The report, called Glueing it together, was conducted by a research team at the University of Technology, Sydney.

A skill mix with a higher proportion of RNs produced significantly decreased rates of nursing-sensitive, negative clinical outcomes.

The study found that an extra RN would reduce the incidence of decubitus ulcers by 20 per 1000 patients, pneumonia by 16 per 100 patients and sepsis by 8 per 1000 patients. A proportional increase in RN hours is associated with statistically significant decreases in decubiti, GI bleeding, physiological/metabolic derangement, pulmonary failure, sepsis and shock and failure to rescue.

Patients were less likely to fall and suffer injury as RN hours increased. The presence of a nurse educator on the ward and an increased proportion of nurses working on their ‘usual’ ward were associated with fewer medication errors.