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Study: Nurse understaffing associated with increased risk of healthcare-associated infections


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Since approximately 4% of patients develop one or more healthcare associated infections (HAI) during their hospital stays, researchers set out to determine the link between HAIs and nurse understaffing.

The unit-level nurse staffing study conducted by Columbia University School of Nursing examined data from more than 100,000 patients at a large urban hospital from 2007-2012. It found that 15% of patient-days had one shift understaffed with registered nurses and 6.3% of patient-days had the day and night shifts understaffed.

Patients who experienced a day with understaffed day and night shifts were 15% more likely to develop HAIs, such as urinary tract infections, bloodstream infections, and pneumonia, than patients with adequately staffed shifts. Additionally, units with understaffed nursing supporting staff (e.g., licensed practical nurses and nurse assistants) also increased the risk of HAIs for patients.

Source: Columbia School of Nursing