Low nurse staffing levels linked to missed care

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Low levels of nurse staffing results in missed care opportunities, which can lead to patient deaths, according to a thesis from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

Researchers examined the relationships between registered staffing levels, nursing care that is left undone, also known as missed care, and risk of patient death at acute care hospitals. The data for the research was taken from four studies. Researchers also used surveys to assess nurse staffing, nurse-rated quality and safety as well as care left undone.

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The study shows that low nurse staffing levels were linked to missed care and higher patient mortality. Seventy-four percent of nurses in Sweden and 86 percent of nurses in England reported missing care "due to lack of time." Additionally, missed care was significantly associated with case-mix adjusted 30-day mortality following common surgical procedures.

"The same fundamental relationship between care left undone and RN staffing was found in both [Sweden and England] and in an analysis of data from nine EU countries," study authors note.

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