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A New Study Finds that Nurses Staffing Levels Impact Readmissions for Pediatric Patients in Hospitals

A New Study Finds that Nurses Staffing Levels Impact Readmissions for Pediatric Patients in Hospitals

Yet another study, the second in the last three weeks and one of dozens that have appeared in the last ten years , provides conclusive scientific evidence that reducing the patient load for nurses (also known as the patient-to-nurse ratio) dramatically improves care for patients, and reduces the  risk for a number of complications.  The most recent study (see details below) found that excessive patient assignments for nurses (anything above four patients per nurse) results in a significant increase in the risk for children being readmitted to the hospital due to inadequate care and patient education.  For children with medical conditions, every patient assigned to a nurse above four resulted in an 11 percent increased risk for readmission; and for children recovering from basic surgeries, each additional patient  assigned to a nurse increased the risk of readmission by a shocking 48%.  This study builds on earlier research published in JAMA for adult patients, which found that for every patient assigned to a nurse above the recommended four patients resulted in a 7 percent increase in the risk of death for those patients.  A study we circulated last week found that safer RN staffing levels improved care for patients experiencing heart failure. 

This study, as noted in the article below, provides strong scientific support for legislation filed in Massachusetts and many other states that would require hospitals to set safe limits on nurses’ patient assignments.  The push for safe staffing legislation to protect patients has grown as more and more hospitals have cut RN staffing and increased nurses’ patient assignments for nurses in the wake of state and national health care reform, and as the  hospital industry continues to merge into major corporate networks, many of them for-profit, with the ultimate focus on boosting profit margins at the expense of patient safety.  Just last month, nurses at Steward Quincy Medical Center conducted a one-day strike over their concerns for patient safety due to deplorable staffing conditions, and nurses at Steward Merrimack Valley Hospital and Steward Holy Family Hospital held rallies to protest dangerous staffing conditions.  This 2,000 nurses at UMass Medical Center in Worcester are considering their own one-day strike to protest dangerous staffing levels at the that Level One Trauma Center, where management is demanding the right to assign nurses, including nurses who care for pediatric patients, up to seven patients at one time. 

For comment on these studies and these issues, contact  David Schildmeier at the MNA and we will  arrange an interview with a nurse in your area.  781-249-0430,

Nursing staff ratios directly impact pediatric hospital readmissions
Study examined common medical and surgical conditoins

May 8, 2013