Does your hospital have enough nurses? Here’s why it matters.

Most all of us are better at our jobs when we aren’t overwhelmed with responsibilities and our workplace isn’t short-staffed. Nowhere is this likely more important than in hospitals — and perhaps particularly with the nursing staff.

Whether we’re admitted for a minor health issue or major surgery, we want to know that the medical professionals who spend the most time taking care of us have enough time to give us the attention we need. After all, in a health care environment, mistakes can be fatal.

The results of one study seem to bear this out when it comes to surgical patients. Researchers looked at the outcomes of almost 26,000 surgical patients over 65 years old in 35 hospitals determined to have good nursing environments and compared them with the same number of patients in 293 other hospitals. A hospital with a “good nursing environment” was one that had more than one nurse for every bed in the facility. The study was controlled for factors like the type of surgery, race and insurance coverage.

Researchers say that they hadn’t expected to find the kind of discrepancies they did:

— Seven and a half percent of patients at “good nursing environment” hospitals died from complications, while 8.9 percent of patients at the other hospitals suffered fatal complications.

— Just under 5 percent of patients in good nursing environments died within a month of arrival, while 5.8 percent of patients at the other hospitals died in that timeframe.

— Among less healthy patients, the difference in rate of death was 3 percent.

— Patients in good nursing environments were only half as likely to be moved into intensive care units.

The hospitals that have this smaller ratio of nurses to beds are given Magnet status by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. You can find out if a particular facility is a Magnet hospital on its website.

While certainly there are other factors to consider when choosing a hospital — if indeed you’re even in a position to choose one — this is certainly one factor worth looking at to help ensure the best possible care and outcome for you and your loved ones.

Source: Huffington Post, “This Simple Workplace Change Could Improve Surgery Survival Rates,” Andrew M. Seaman, Jan. 24, 2016

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