A study conducted at three US institutions has revealed that a patient’s mortality risk rises as their exposure to understaffed nursing shifts increases.
The research — carried out at the University of California Los Angeles’ School of Public Health, the Mayo Clinic and Vanderbilt University — also found that mortality risk increased when nurses’ workloads increased due to high patient turnover.
It also noted that mortality risk increased by 2% for each substantially understaffed shift that patients were exposed to.
As the average patient in the study was exposed to three nursing shifts that fell below target levels, the mortality risk of these patients was 6% higher compared to patients in fully staffed units.
The study analysed records of nearly 198,000 admitted patients and 177,000 eight-hour nursing shifts across 43 care units at a tertiary academic medical centre in the US.
The study was funded by the Agency for Health Research and Quality, part of the US Department of Health and Human Services.