Study: Tough Demands on Nurses Adversely Affect Patients

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BALTIMORE—Better working conditions and better staffing of nurses can significantly improve the care of patients with serious conditions, according to the latest nurse labor study by the University of Maryland School of Nursing.

Several troubling trends in patient outcomes surfaced as researchers analyzed survey data from 633 nurses in 71 hospitals in North Carolina and Illinois concerning patient outcomes, says lead investigator Alison Trinkoff, ScD, FAAN.

For example, pneumonia deaths were significantly more likely in hospitals where nurses reported increased psychological demands and more adverse work schedules. Trinkoff says they measured high psychological demands by very fast work, lack of time to complete work, excessive required work, being slowed by delays from other workers, and frequent interruptions. Another trend was that patients were more likely to develop deep vein thrombosis after surgery in hospitals where nurses reported high psychological demands. Staffing also was controlled in the analysis, so that the effects occurred independent of staffing.

“We selected outcomes that have been reported as nursing-sensitive and that have sufficient rates of occurrence to generate reporting data for over 90 percent of the hospitals,” said Trinkoff.

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