Hospital death rates can be reduced by employing more registered nurses and routinely using care maps or protocols, a study has shown.
Researchers in Ontario, Canada studied 46,993 patients admitted to hospital with heart attacks, stroke, pneumonia and blood poisoning.
Death rates within 30 days varied considerably between the 75 hospitals in the study, from 10% to 28%, with the average being 17%.
When combined with a survey of nurse and staffing levels, the study shows a 10% increase in the number of registered nurses employed was associated with six fewer deaths per 1,000 discharged patients.
The death rate went down by nine per 1,000 patients when the number of graduate-level nurses went up by 10%.
And a 10% increase in adequate staffing and resources was associated with 17 fewer deaths per 1,000 discharged patients.
Journal of Advanced Nursing (2007) 57.1:32-44