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Nurse absences pose patient risk

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High levels of absenteeism among nurses have a negative impact on patient care, a small US study confirms.

High levels of absenteeism among nurses have a negative impact on patient care, a small US study confirms.

Researchers analysed monthly data on staffing levels and incident reports from six inpatient units at a 258-bed hospital over 12 months.

They found that when patient load and nurse absenteeism were both high, there was an increase in the number of restraints used and a higher number of patient deaths. High levels of nurse absenteeism led to fewer uses of alternatives to patient restraints.

The authors said high absenteeism and high patient load because of poor staffing were part of a ‘vicious cycle’, which contributed strongly to a lowered quality of patient care.

Journal of Advanced Nursing (2007) 60: 673–681

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