Healthcare News & Insights

Benefits of nurse staffing levels vary by type of hospital

While a high nurse staffing level is generally a good goal, some facilities get more of a quality boost from it than others. That’s the takeaway from two recent studies.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that hospitalized patients’ mortality increased proportionally with shortages in nurse staffing.

But another study published in Medical Care, found that effect was muted when looking at “safety net” hospitals that serve the poor, uninsured, etc. At non-safety-net hospitals, patients benefited from fewer deaths from heart failure, fewer incidents involving failure to rescue, lower infection rates and fewer patients who had to stay in the hospital longer than expected.

The researchers say more data is needed to determine what causes the discrepancy, but they suspect it’s related to overall poorer health of the populations using safety-net hospitals.

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