Five studies found at least some association between lower nurse staffing levels and one or more types of adverse patient outcomes. Among the study's principal findings:
In hospitals with high RN staffing, medical patients had lower rates of five adverse patient outcomes (UTIs, pneumonia, shock, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, and longer hospital stay) than patients in hospitals with low RN staffing. Major surgery patients in hospitals with high RN staffing had lower rates of two patient outcomes (UTIs and failure to rescue).
Higher rates of RN staffing were associated with a 3- to 12-percent reduction in adverse outcomes, depending on the outcome.
Higher staffing at all levels of nursing was associated with a 2- to 25-percent reduction in adverse outcomes, depending on the outcome.
Pneumonia rates were found to be especially sensitive to staffing levels.
All adverse events studied (pneumonia, pressure ulcer, UTI, wound infection, patient fall/injury, sepsis, and adverse drug event) were associated with increased costs. Do the math. (Remember quality is free?) Higher staffing levels may save money for the hospital and risk, pain, and aggravation for the patient.