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Patients at risk when nurses are overworked
Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare reports on a study from Finland which found that when nurses are overworked the risk of a patient dying increased by more than 40%. The study was published in BMJ.

The researchers, who looked at 36 units in four hospitals in Finland, collected data daily on nurse workload, staffing, patient safety incidents, and patient mortality for a year. When the workload was above the optimal level, the study found the risk of a patient safety incident grew by 8% to 32%, while the risk of patient mortality increased by 43%.

Conversely, if a nurse’s workload fell below that level, the risk of a patient safety incident or death dropped by between 15% and 27%. This would give nurses “more time for caring and observing each patient, which may reduce the risk for adverse events and accordingly prevent the patient’s health condition from deteriorating,” according to the study.

Researchers acknowledged some limitations of their study: One, they relied on incident reports, which may not be reliable. Also, the study didn’t “address the effects of skill mix, competence level or work experience on patient outcomes.”