Prof. Linda Aiken has long been a first-rate scholar on nurse staffing rates and their impact on patient safety and patient mortality. Prof. Aiken’s list of credits is a mile long, including her Registered Nursing degree.
Once again, Prof. Aiken has found a critical link between nurse staffing and patient outcomes – this time in Europe. From her paper in The Lancet,
An increase in a nurses' workload by one patient increased the likelihood of an inpatient dying within 30 days of admission by 7% (odds ratio 1·068, 95% CI 1·031—1·106), and every 10% increase in bachelor's degree nurses was associated with a decrease in this likelihood by 7% (0·929, 0·886—0·973). These associations imply that patients in hospitals in which 60% of nurses had bachelor's degrees and nurses cared for an average of six patients would have almost 30% lower mortality than patients in hospitals in which only 30% of nurses had bachelor's degrees and nurses cared for an average of eight patients.
The Irish have picked up on the study. The Irish Examiner reports that the Irish Nurses and Midwives’ Organisation has asked the Irish Government to allow nurse recruitment. The INMO cites Prof. Aiken’s research in their demand.
Will America follow suit? Hopefully. This research is not novel or groundbreaking. Here is a 2010 MU Law blog post, citing yet another study by Prof. Aiken.