Adding RNs at Acute Care Hospitals Would Save Lives and Money, Study Shows

Adding 133,000 registered nurses to America’s acute care hospital workforce would save 5,900 lives per year and yield $6.1 billion in medical savings annually, according to a study published in the current issue of the journal Medical Care. The work, originally proposed in 2003, was conducted by the Lewin Group and supported by grants from Nursing's Agenda for the Future, the American Nurses Association (ANA), and a coalition of nursing associations dedicated to addressing nursing workforce issues.

The researchers examined findings from 28 studies that analyzed the relationship between higher RN staffing and various patient outcomes, including reduced hospital-based mortality, hospital-acquired pneumonia, nosocomial bloodstream infections, and length of stay. The productivity value of total deaths averted by the higher staffing equals more than $1.3 billion per year, or about $9,900 per additional RN per year, and the additional RN staffing would decrease hospital days by 3.6 million.

"Nurses are a vital component to the health care system," said ANA President Rebecca M. Patton, MSN, RN, CNOR. "This nursing-funded study provides a model that shows how nurses affect the delivery of cost-effective, high-quality care and prevent adverse events. This project was the culmination of years of research that could not have been possible without the tireless work and cooperation of The American Association of Critical Care Nurses, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the Oncology Nursing Society, the American Organization of Nurse Executives, and the 85 other nursing organizations who contributed to the project. I applaud their outstanding efforts and commend them on this significant contribution to the nursing profession."

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