FFE Magazine

Overworked nurses have to be given a break, says Study

Overworked nurses have to be given a break, says Study

Direct link between nurse workload and patient death found.


According to a study published in the medical journal The Lancet, a patient’s risk of dying increases as nurses take care of more patients.


The study compared nurses’ situations in EU countries and found out that Spain’s nurses had the highest nurse to patient ratio where one nurse takes care of 12.7 patients. Meanwhile, the countries with the lowest nurse to patient ratio are Norway (5.2) and Ireland (6.9).


The study also found out that each extra patient a nurse takes care increases an in-patient’s chance of dying by 7%.


These findings do not bode well for Spain’s health system as spending cuts see more nurses getting laid off around the country, leading to increased workload for those who remain employed.


While Spain is not outracing some of its EU neighbours in overall death rate (current death rate stands at 1.3% for all nine countries studied), the government may want to improve its austerity measures on the health system to prevent threats to patient’s lives, said the researchers.


The study in The Lancet said that one redeeming factor that may be counterbalancing the effect of overworked Spanish nurses is the quality of education they have received. According to the study, a 10% increase in the number of nurses with a bachelor degree will reduce patient death by 7%.


The researchers tracked 400,000 patients in 300 hospitals across the EU from 2009–2010 in their study. Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation General Secretary Liam Doran commented ‘The challenge that arises out of this study is for policy-makers.


‘The question is do they accept it? And if they do, what are they going to do about it?’



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