Monthly Archives: March 2014

An “inconvenient truth” about nurse staffing cuts

We have heard lots about transforming the in-hospital workforce recently, Change is inevitable – and contentious – but I think one thing we can all agree on is that change has to be for the right reasons, and certainly must be informed by evidence.  That’s what I want to talk about today: evidence.

An article came across my desk last week – a large European study published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet in late February of this year (This is a journal renowned for publishing what scientists call “big science” in the world of health and medicine).

In this study, led by nurse scientist Linda Aitken, the authors aimed to assess whether differences in patient-to-nurse workloads and nurses’ educational qualifications in nine European countries were associated with variation in hospital mortality after common surgical procedures. This was a robust and sophisticated study, examining and controlling for a multiple of variables in the analysis of discharge data for over 400,000 patients. The study also included data from surveys of more than 26,000 nurses practising in the study hospitals, in order to measure nurse staffing and nurse education. Yup, this is BIG science.