RN Staffing Equals Quality Care

According to New ANA Study

WASHINGTON, DC- In a study conducted by Network, Inc., a hospital and healthcare research organization, results show hospitalized patients have better outcomes in hospitals with higher staffing levels and higher ratios of RNs on the staff. Using hospital and Medicare data from nine states, the study tracked five adverse outcomes measures: length of stay in the hospital, nosocomial pneumonia, postoperative infection, pressure ulcers, and urinary tract infections contracted while in the hospital. These measures were compared with RN staffing levels and overall hospital staffing levels. All five measures noticeably decreased with higher levels of RN involvement in patient care.

American Nurses Association (ANA) President, Mary Foley, MS, RN, said, "Shorter lengths of stay and fewer complications translate into lower hospital costs. Not only do patients fare better, but hospitals can actually save money using highly skilled nurses in adequate numbers. It makes no sense for hospitals to cut RN staff or replace RNs with unlicensed assistive personnel who lack the education and judgment of RNs. For years, hospitals have tried to cut corners in this way, but the data keep disproving that approach. RNs are the best value in healthcare-the best care is also the most economical."

Study results were presented at the Nurse Staffing Summit held in Washington, DC, at the beginning of May 2000. The study is part of ANA's Safety and Quality Initiative, an effort to promote the use of objective measures to demonstrate relationships between nurse staffing and patient outcomes. Another part of the initiative was the development of the ANA's Principles for Nurse Staffing. They maintain that the number, mix, and competencies of nurses must be considered in light of patient census and acuity when determining the composition of professional care in healthcare facilities. The Principles for Nurse Staffing have helped individual nurses obtain appropriate staffing levels and design patient care systems to improve patient care.