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A new study has put the effects of the nursing shortage into stark numerical figures. The study, published in BMJ Journals, was focused on examining mortality, patient ratings, and quality of care in European hospitals, based on the educational and professional levels of their nurses. The study primarily focuses on professional nurses and “nurse associates,” who are medical workers who have not had the same education or compensation as professional nurses.

The study, which can be found here, was focused on analyzing how the ratio of professional nurses versus nurse associates affects patient & nurse outcomes in adult acute care facilities in Belgium, England, Finland, Ireland, Spain, and Switzerland. The study ultimately found that a greater proportion of professional nurses is associated with better outcomes for both patients and nurses. According to the study, “Each 10 percentage point reduction in the proportion of professional nurses is associated with an 11% increase in the odds of death.”

This study was conducted to examine the effects that decreasing percentages of nursing professionals and increasing percentages of nursing associates have on patient outcomes. Many hospitals in Europe are reporting lower rates of professional nurses on their staff: in England, 57% of nurses in hospitals are classified as “professional nurses.” The rest of the staff is filled out by “nursing associates” — lower-skilled & lower-wage workers.

The theory behind this practice — that hospitals can reduce costs without affecting patient care — is unproven, but attractive to hospital executives. However, as this study and others have shown, it can dramatically worsen outcome rates for patients and nurses.

The study also found that by substituting one nurse assistant for a professional nurse, the odds of patients dying is raised by 21% (per 25 patients). This further illustrates the point that although nurse assistants may be cost-efficient, they have a very tangible effect on patient outcomes.

The study also notes that “US studies have generally concluded that a hospital skill mix with proportionately more professional nurses yields greater value because higher wages of professional nurses are offset by reductions in length of stay, lower use of intensive care, fewer costly adverse events such as hospital-acquired infections and lower readmission rates.”

With this new information, hospital leaders are seeking a solution that both keeps costs down, while also preserving patient safety and ensuring positive outcomes for everyone who is cared for. PassportUSA aims to solve this problem by supplying internationally-trained professional nurses to facilities, for a lower cost than full-time or travel nurses.

Are you worried about how your current nursing staff is affecting patient outcomes at your facility? If you’d like an in-depth analysis of your business, you can click below to contact PassportUSA.

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