Low nurse levels cause deaths

Geneva - Inadequate staffing is reaching crisis levels in all regions, according to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Among studies reviewed, one showed that an increased workload from four to six surgical patients resulted in a 14% increase in the chance of a patient in that nurse's care dying within 30 days of admission.

Photo: Low nurse levels cause deaths

ICN President Hiroko Minami said: ‘Safe staffing leads to lower incidences of medication errors, post-intervention urinary tract infections, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, falls, pneumonia and shock. The global nursing shortage experienced today clearly threatens reaching the Millennium Development Goals.’ 

High patient-to-nurse ratios also put nurses at higher risk of emotional exhaustion, stress, job dissatisfaction and burnout, she added. Continuous overtime, or work without adequate backup, also can lead to greater absenteeism and poorer health.

The ICN said a policy is needed to focus on comprehensive health personnel planning and an adequate nurse-to-patient staffing ratio. An ICN advisory on this complex subject is available at:


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