More nurses saves more money

Dr Linda Aiken and her co–researchers are starting to build a business case to show that hiring more nurses is good for a health service’s bottom line.

She said savings due to better care and reduced nurse turnover more than offset the costs of increased staffing.

“It is costing hospitals a lot not to have more nurses,” she told the Keeping Patients Safe symposium in Brisbane.

She said the US health system was incurring higher costs from preventable readmissions, treating complications like infections, more long-term institutional care for the frail elderly, and expensive nurse turnover.

Research showed that in the United States “adverse occurrences” among hospital patients were associated with:

  • 251,000 deaths
  • 22.6 million additional hospital days
  • $41.8 billion in medical care costs

However, improved nurse staffing has been proven to reduce adverse occurrences and nurse turnover.

In the US, annual saving per additional nurse added to improve staffing was $60,000, or 72 per cent of the salary plus benefits of each additional nurse added – not counting savings through lower turnover.

“It is costing hospitals a lot not to have more nurses.”