Cincinnati Children’s Study Says Nurse to Patient Ratios do Matter
A new Cincinnati Children’s study explores the impact of nurse staffing on pediatric hospital re-admissions.
The study, published online in the journal BMJ Quality and Safety in Health Care, is believed to be the first to look at how nursing shortages relate to pediatric re-admissions. Heather Tubbs-Cooley, PhD, RN, nurse scientist at Cincinnati Children’s, and her team studied more than 90,000 children in 225 hospitals using survey and discharge data from California, Florida, New Jersey and Pennsylvania as well as the American Hospital Association Annual Survey from these four states.
They discovered that each one patient increase in a hospital’s average staffing ratio increased the odds of a medical patient’s re-admission within 15–30 days by 11 percent. For surgical patients, the odds of re-admission were increased by 48 percent.
“We have abundant evidence that better nurse staffing levels in hospitals are associated with better patient outcomes, but we lack robust data to guide decision-making regarding optimal staffing levels for a given unit or patient population,” said Tubbs-Cooley. “Producing that evidence will require different designs and methods than those we have relied on in the past.”
Tubbs-Cooley plans to test these research designs in other studies.