New report on nursing workload and patient care released

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwire - Sept. 28, 2012) - Excessive nursing workload is negatively affecting patient outcomes, says a new study released today by the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU), at a meeting with provincial health ministers. Nurses are calling on provincial health ministers to work with them to answer the question, just how many patients can one nurse safely care for?

"Matching nursing levels to number and acuity of patients pays off. It pays off for patients in terms of improved health. It pays off for nurses in terms of reduced illness and injury in the workplace, and it pays off for governments by lowering costs of nursing overtime and turnover, less hospital readmission and shorter lengths of stay," says Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions president Linda Silas, RN.

The report, Nursing Workload and Patient Care: Understanding the value of nurses, the effects of excessive workload and how nurse-patient ratios and dynamic staffing models can help, surveyed Canadian and international evidence relating nurse staffing to patient outcomes, including mortality. It also captures the results from three consultations of experts and the experiences of frontline nurses.

"Ensuring safe levels of nursing care is a win-win, so we all need to ask - why are we not there yet?" asks Dr. Lois Berry, RN, PhD, the author of the report. "In researching this report, I was struck both by the amount of evidence supporting safe nurse staffing to improve patient safety and quality of care, and the lack of progress toward better care for patients and families through improved nursing levels."

Inadequate nurse staffing has been proven to be associated with increases in mortality rates, hospital-acquired pneumonia, urinary tract infections, sepsis, hospital-acquired infections, pressure ulcers, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, shock and cardiac arrest, medication errors, falls, failure to rescue and longer than expected length of hospital stay.

The reports calls on governments to commit, now, to safe staffing models across the continuum of care, acute, long-term and community care.

"Patients, residents and clients are at risk due to excessive nursing workload," warns Silas. "We urge Health Ministers to work with us to improve patient, resident and client's safety by developing safe staffing plans and practices."

Nursing Workload and Patient Care can be downloaded from the CFNU website at nursesunions.ca.

The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) represents close to 200,000 nurses and student nurses. Our members work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, community health care, and our homes. The CFNU speaks to all levels of government, other health care stakeholders and the public about evidence-based policy options to improve patient care, working conditions and our public health care system.

READ THE FULL REPORT:

Nursing Workload and Patient Care: Understanding the value of nurses, the effects of excessive workload and how nurse-patient ratios and dynamic staffing models can help