Study: Reducing patient-to-nurse ratio can save thousands of lives

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Specifically, there are growing concerns about changes the government made to it guidelines for facial protection.

Recommendations come as hospitals face nationwide shortages of nurses

Having more nurses can save lives and improve the overall quality of care, despite hospitals often having varying numbers of nurses per patient, the National Institute of Nursing Research said. In a recent study partially funded by the institute, researchers examined cross-sectional data on nurse staffing in 116 different acute care general hospitals across New York.

The study, published in Medical Care, determined that hospital staffing ranged from 4.3 to 10.5 patients per nurse — averaging 6.3 patients per nurse for the total 417,861 patients.

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Researchers determined that hospitals utilizing a ratio of four patients to each nurse, as proposed in the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act legislation that prompted the study, “conservatively estimated 4370 lives saved and $720 million saved over the 2-year study period in shorter lengths of stay and avoided readmissions.”

The study ultimately determined that having fewer patients per nurse led to both lives and money saved, while steeper ratios adversely affected patients.

“Patient-to-nurse staffing varies substantially across NY hospitals and higher ratios adversely affect patients,” the study concluded. “Our estimates of potential lives and costs saved substantially underestimate potential benefits of improved hospital nurse staffing.”

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