The effect of nurse-to-patient ratios on nurse-sensitive patient outcomes in acute specialist units : a systematic review and meta-analysis

Driscoll, A, Grant, MJ, Carroll, D, Dalton, S, Deaton, C, Jones, ID, Lehwaldt, D, McKee, G, Munyombwe, T and Astin, F 2017, 'The effect of nurse-to-patient ratios on nurse-sensitive patient outcomes in acute specialist units : a systematic review and meta-analysis' , European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, 17 (1) , pp. 6-22.

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Background: Nurses are pivotal in the provision of high quality care in acute hospitals. The impact that nursing shortages have on the quality of care provided to patients in hospital can have disastrous consequences. In light of this, a review of the evidence on the effect of nurse staffing levels on patient outcomes is urgently required.
Aim: To undertake a systematic review examining the association between nurse staffing levels and nurse sensitive patient outcomes in acute specialist units.
Methods: Nine electronic databases were searched for English published papers between 2006 and 2017. The primary outcome was nurse sensitive patient outcomes.
Results: Of 3429 unique articles identified, 35 met the inclusion criteria. All were observational and the majority utilised large administrative databases. Higher staffing levels were associated with reduced mortality, mediation errors, ulcers, restraint use, infections, pneumonia, higher aspirin use and a greater number of patients receiving PCI within 90 minutes. A meta-analysis involving 175,755 patients, from six studies, admitted to ICU and/or cardiac/cardiothoracic units showed that a low nurse-to-patient ratio decreased the risk of in-hospital mortality by 14% (0.86, 95%CI 0.79-0.94). However, the meta-analysis also showed high heterogeneity (I2=86%).
Conclusion: Nurse-to-patient ratios influence many patient outcomes, most markedly mortality. More studies need to be conducted on the association of nurse-to-patient ratios with nurse sensitive patient outcomes to offset the paucity and weaknesses of research in this area. This would provide further evidence for recommendations of optimal nurse-to-patient ratios in acute specialist units.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society > Centre for Applied Research in Health, Welfare and Policy
Journal or Publication Title: European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 1474-5151
Related URLs:
Funders: Council of Cardiovascular Nursing and Allied Professionals (CCNAP), European Society of Cardiology (ESC), National Heart Foundation of Australia
Depositing User: MJ Grant
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2017 13:43
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 22:18

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