Published May 31, 2002
This was in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette today. I hope a majority of the public read it. Maybe Joe Public would have more respect for us and what we do. I thought it was well done!! MAY 30, 12:43 ET
Study: RNs Save More Lives
By JEFF DONN
Associated Press Writer
BOSTON (AP)-Hospitals staffed with more registered nurses-the most highly skilled kind --
save more lives from deadly complications, researchers say in a study that is likely to intensify
worries about the nation's growing nursing shortage.
``Will we see more of these adverse outcomes because we don't have the knowledge of the
registered nurses in the clinical setting?'' asked Patricia Rowell, a research analyst at the American
The researchers, whose findings were published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine,
analyzed 6.2 million patients released from 799 hospitals in 11 states in 1997. The patients
accounted for about a quarter of those who were discharged nationwide.
The researchers at Harvard and Vanderbilt universities compared the 25 percent of general
medical and surgical patients who got the most nursing care with the 25 percent who got the least.
They broke down the nursing care by the number of hours and the amount provided by registered
nurses, licensed practical nurses, and nursing aides.
RNs have college degrees in nursing and are often allowed to develop nursing plans and
coordinate care by therapists and other specialists. Licensed practical nurses generally have a year of formal training but no
degree. Nursing aides often have minimal training.
In some of the most striking findings, medical patients with the greatest proportion of RN care-relative to LPNs and aides --
were 9 percent less likely to suffer shock or cardiac arrest, or to get a urinary tract infection. Medical patients with more hours
of RN care also spent 5 percent less time in the hospital.
Surgical patients with more hours of RN care were 6 percent less likely to die from pneumonia, shock or cardiac arrest, upper
gastrointestinal bleeding, blood poisoning, or clotting.
However, the researchers found no health benefit from more care by either LPNs or aides. That finding brings into question the
cost-cutting practice at some hospitals of replacing RNs with less skilled nursing staff.
``There's a tremendous amount of judgment and understanding of the courses of illness that RNs bring to the bedside,'' said
Jack Needleman, the Harvard health policy researcher who led the study. ``It's not just a matter of having more bodies.''
He said hundreds of patients-possibly thousands-die each year from lack of advanced nursing care.
The average vacancy rate for RN jobs is 13 percent, according to a report commissioned by the American Hospital Association.
And many expect the shortage to grow with the aging of the nursing work force and the general population.
The Harvard study, which was funded by the government, is meant to give direction to policy makers on medical costs and
``We know we're about to enter a nursing shortage that we've never had before,'' said Pamela Thompson, a registered nurse
who leads the American Organization of Nurse Executives. ``What this study shows is yet again a piece of evidence that we
need to be doing everything we can to make sure we have the nursing staff that we need in the next five to 10 years.''
Just wanted to add, I don't agree entirely with the statements made here about LPN's. I believe they are a very important part of the health care team. This was not posted to diss anyone so please don't take it that way.
Thanks for your added note...much appreciated! I'm an LPN...going to school to 'be a RN when I grow up'....haha
I work in a hospital, working side by side with some really great RN's....I do the very same job they do......with the exception of 2 things.....IV push meds and hanging blood. Even on rare occasions, I'm the charge nurse...go figure?? Anyway, I believe it takes the 'whole darn team' working together. In the past, I've worked with RN's who were rather scarry....(no insult intended)....I've also worked with LPN's that I wouldn't let care for my ex-husband!!
I would kinda like to see a 'revamping' of the nurse structure...as we have discussed it before. One nursing school program....per se...and just different levels of skill...No more LPN's....just all start out with RN and skill levels according to the amount of school and/or experience.
You could go to school and 'stop' at 2years, 3years, 4years, etc....???? Just thinking out loud.....
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