NHS research finds ‘direct link’ between staffing levels and death risk

Source: Shaun Lintern, HSJ, April 13, 2017
(subscription required)

….The project looked at staffing levels across 32 general medical and surgical wards at one NHS hospital between April 2012 and March 2015. More than 107,000 patients and almost 700,000 staff shifts were analysed using data from rostering systems and electronic observations, with the number of care hours per patient per day calculated and compared to mortality risks.

Key findings from the research were:
– When patients were exposed to low nursing hours during the first five days of their hospital stay, their risk of death significantly increased.
– For each day of low registered nurse staffing, the risk of death was increased by 3 per cent.
– Patients whose stay included days of high patient turnover in terms of admissions per nurse were associated with a 5 per cent increase in the risk of death.
– High levels of temporary staffing on the ward was associated with increased risk of death.
– When 1.5 or more nurse hours per patient day were provided by temporary staff the risk of death increased by 12 per cent.
– Each additional nurse hour per patient day was associated with a 2 per cent decrease in the chance of vital sign observations being missed…..

Professor Griffiths said the study was due to be published later this year. It will add to a growing body of NHS based research showing links between registered nurse staffing and patient outcomes. In December, a study by Professor Alison Leary found a “calculable” link between nurse numbers and patient outcomes, including 40 separate correlations with staffing levels…..
Registered nurse, healthcare support worker, medical staffing levels and mortality in English hospital trusts: a cross-sectional study
Source: Peter Griffiths, Jane Ball, Trevor Murrells, Simon Jones, Anne Marie Rafferty, BMJ Open, Volume 6, Issue 2, June 2016