Patient satisfaction declines when hospitals have fewer nurses: 4 findings

Patient satisfaction with hospitals declines when patients believe there are not enough nurses staffing hospital wards, according to a study published in BMJ Open.

Researchers gathered data from surveys of 66,348 hospital patients and 2,963 inpatient nurses. The patients included in the surveys were discharged in 2010 from 161 National Health Service trusts in England. In 2010, inpatient nurses were surveyed in a sample of 46 hospitals in 31 of the same 161 NHS trusts.

Here are four findings from the study.

1. Fourteen percent of patients surveyed who said there were never or rarely enough nurses on the hospital ward rated their hospital care as excellent. However, over half — 57 percent — of patients who reported there were typically enough nurses at the hospital rated their care as excellent.

2. The study found 60 percent of patient survey respondents said there were usually enough nurses available to provide their care while in the hospital.

3. One out of 10 patients who responded to the survey said there were never or rarely enough professional nurses during their hospital stay.

4. The study indicates patients' confidence in physicians and nurses proves to be equally important in whether or not they rate the hospital's care as excellent. "Patients' perceptions of hospital care are strongly associated with missed nursing care, which in turn is related to poor professional nurse staffing and poor hospital work environments," the study authors concluded. "Improving RN staffing in NHS hospitals holds promise for enhancing patient satisfaction."

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