Researchers say they have found more evidence linking patient safety with nursing staffing levels.
Study authors from the department of nursing science at the University of Eastern Finland said they had found “significant associations” between nurse staffing and adverse patient outcomes in hospitals.
It follows previous research that has indicated a higher proportion of registered nurses in the staff skill mix results in better patient outcomes.
The researchers surveyed 535 registered nurses in Finland and 334 in the Netherlands.
The patient-to-nurse ratio was on average 8.74:1 and did not vary significantly between the countries. But there were fewer registered nurses among the Dutch hospital staff than the Finnish staff. In addition, Finnish nurses performed non-nursing and administrative activities more frequently than the Dutch nurses.
The researchers found frequencies of patient falls were related to the patient-to-nurse ratio in both countries. Finnish nurses also reported the occurrence of adverse patient outcomes more frequently.
Writing in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, the authors said: “Compared with the Netherlands, in Finland, nurses appear to have higher workloads, there are higher patient-to-nurse ratios, and these adverse staffing conditions are associated with higher rates of adverse patient outcomes.”
They added: “The findings provide valuable insights into the potential effects of major changes or reductions in nursing staff on the occurrence of adverse patient outcomes in hospital settings.”
In 2009 Nursing Times exclusively revealed research showing the number of nurses per bed was directly linked to mortality rates. The data was collated by healthcare analysts Dr Foster and highlighted in its most recent Hospital Guide, published in November.