BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Feb 16, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Heart attack patients are more likely to survive in U.S. hospitals that have higher numbers of registered nurses on staff, researchers said Monday.
Over the past 10 years, many U.S. hospitals have reduced the number of RNs as a cost-cutting measure, said lead author Sharina Person of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
"This raises serious concerns about quality of care and patient outcomes. This study, which shows a direct association between the number of RNs and patient deaths, validates these concerns," she said in a statement.
A random nationwide sampling of medical records for 118,940 Medicare patients hospitalized following a heart attack took into account factors like hospital volume, teaching status, nursing skill mix and quality of care. Previous studies had not considered these variables.
"Even after adjusting for all variables, the association between nurse staffing and patient mortality remained significant," Person said.
Although hospitals often must restructure to increase efficiency, nurse staffing should not be reduced without careful and complete examination, she added.
Copyright 2004 by United Press International.