Women's Health Leader Calls Attention to Impact of Nurse Staffing on Quality of Care
Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
Washington, D.C. — June 19, 2006 —
“Our nation’s health care system suffers from significant quality problems and disparities in care. Researchers estimate that preventable medical errors cause more than 100,000 deaths in hospitals every year. And poor quality care (overuse, underuse, and misuse) costs the system between $97 and $195 billion a year and accounts for up to 30 percent of our national health care expenditures.
Nurses are on the frontlines of our health care system and have a tremendous influence on a patient’s healthcare experience. There is growing evidence that the level of nurse staffing can have a considerable impact on health care quality and safety. For example, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that for each additional patient in a registered nurse’s care, the risk of death increases by seven percent. In hospitals with eight patients per nurse, patients have a 31 percent greater risk of dying than those in hospitals with four patients per nurse. A recent study published in Health Affairs also found that increasing the use of registered nurses and hours of nursing care per patient could help avoid more than 6,700 patient deaths and four million days of care each year.
Hospitals should publicly report on the three national consensus measures concerning nurse staffing that have been endorsed by the National Quality Forum (NQF). Consumers deserve to have good, reliable information about the level and type of nursing care when they choose a hospital, and the public reporting of information on nursing care will be a powerful catalyst for change.”
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.