Study: Wards understaffed by nurses experience negative health outcomes

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 10.53.35 AMAn innovative new study by nursing researchers reveals that patients in hospitals wards understaffed by nurses are more likely to experience complications and poor health outcomes, including surgical wound infections, pressure injuries, urinary tract infections, and pneumonia, according to a story published this week in 

In the United States, hospital acquired infections are among the leading cause of preventable deaths each year.

For the new study, researchers looked at “nurse-sensitive” outcomes, issues that can arise if a nurse doesn’t have the time or ability to intervene due to poor staffing levels. Unlike other research studies of nurse staffing levels, the researchers were able to study patient outcomes based on staffing levels of individual wards.

“What is different with this work is that we have tracked the patient’s journey through the hospital as they get moved from ward to ward and measured their exposure to understaffed shifts,” said researcher Di Twigg.

The study revealed that low staffing levels can result in delayed activities, ultimately having a negative impact on patient health outcomes.

Numerous studies connect poor patient outcomes to low nurse staffing levels. A study released earlier this year by the the Minnesota Department of Health found that poor nurse staffing levels are correlated to patient mortality, failures to rescue, and patient falls in Minnesota hospitals.


Patient Story

arlene townsend staffing award

Unsafe staffing costs a Florida facility $1 billion

From Trial Magazine, March 2014 issue: Trial Magazine, 3/11/14 VERDICTS & SETTLEMENTS Arlene Townsend, 63 suffered a stroke and required 24-hour care. She was admitted to Auburndale Oaks Healthcare Center, a nursing home owned by Trans Healthcare, Inc. In the three years leading up to her death, Townsend suffered numerous fall resulting in broken bones and lacerations, infections, significant weight loss, chronic constipation, skin breakdowns, dehydration, and other problems. She is survived by her adult son. Townsend’s estate sued Trans Healthcare, alleging that it had understaffed the nursing home to increase profits and failed to provide adequate care, including protecting Townsend from falls, ensuring a safe environment, and documenting changes to her condition. The court entered a judgment of liability against the defendant, and the…
Read More