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Study: Reducing nursing staff increases risk of hospital injuries

If you have ever spent more than a day or two in a hospital, then you probably understand that nurses tend to provide most of the hands-on care for patients. In other words, much responsibility is placed on nurses to handle both menial and urgent tasks that can have a significant effect on a patient's health.

However, when a hospital needs to make budget cuts or simply focuses on profits rather than patient care, reducing the nursing staff is often one of the first steps the hospital takes. Meanwhile, each year, too many people suffer injuries in hospitals as a result of understaffing.

With these issues in mind, New Yorkers may be interested in a recent study of European hospitals. The authors of the study noted that the findings reflect those of other studies that looked at hospitals in the United States.

Researchers examined data from 300 hospitals in Western Europe and found that, in general, even minor reductions in the number of nurses on staff significantly raised the likelihood that a patient aged 50 or older would die within a month-long stay. According to the study, the chance of death for a person in that age group increased by 7 percent when each nurse on staff took on the responsibility of caring for one more patient.

The study looked at information on 422,730 patients who were in a hospital for at least 48 hours, and who underwent common procedures, including general, vascular and orthopedic surgeries.

If you believe that hospital understaffing or doctor negligence resulted in an injury to you or a loved one, then it is important to know that there may be legal avenues for holding the negligent party accountable. Most of us expect that doctors and hospital administrators will take the necessary steps to properly staff the facility, but unfortunately, that isn't always the case.

Source: Medical Daily, "Hospital And Surgery Fears? Your Nurse's College Degree And Lower Workload Just Might Save Your Life," Susan Scutti, Feb. 25, 2014

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