Increasing Nurse Workload by One Patient Increases Patient Mortality Risk by 7%

A higher collective education level of nurses may lead to reduced risk of patient mortality, while a higher number of patients per ward may lead to an increased risk of patient mortality, according to a study in The Lancet.

In an observational study of more than 26,000 nurses in Europe, researchers found increasing a nurse's workload by one patient increased the risk of a patient dying within 30 days of admission by seven percent.

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For every 10 percent increase in nurses with bachelor's degrees, the risk of an inpatient death decreased by seven percent.

"These associations imply that patients in hospitals in which 60 percent of nurses had bachelor's degrees and nurses cared for an average of six patients would have almost 30 percent lower mortality than patients in hospitals in which only 30 percent of nurses had bachelor's degrees and nurses cared for an average of eight patients," according to the study.

Researchers suggest cutting nursing staff to save money may increase adverse events in hospitals, while an emphasis on receiving bachelor's degrees in nursing could help reduce adverse events.

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