Nursing Education Linked to Reduced Patient Mortality

According to a new study, hospitals where nursing staff care for fewer patients and have a higher proportion of Bachelor's degree-trained vocational nurses had significantly fewer surgical patients die while in the hospital. Although the study took place in Europe, it is the largest and most detailed analysis to date of patient outcomes associated with nurse staffing and education.

The study estimates that increasing a hospital nurse’s workload by one patient increase the likelihood of a hospital death by seven percent. Additionally, a better educated workforce can also decrease deaths – for every 10 percent increase in nurses with bachelor degrees, there was an associated drop of 7 percent in the likelihood of death.  In hospitals where nurses cared for an average of six patients, the risk of a patient dying in the hospital after surgery was decreased by one-third.

In the United States, the analysis of patient outcomes associated with staffing practices has informed proposed or actual legislation in nearly half the country. These types of analyses also recommends that 80 percent of nurses in the United States by 2020 should have a bachelor’s degree.

“Building the scientific foundation for clinical practice has long been a crucial goal of nursing research,” said Dr. Patricia A. Grady, Director of the National Institute of Nursing Research. “This study emphasizes the role that nurses play in ensuring successful patient outcomes and underscores the need for a well-educated nursing workforce.” 

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