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Science in Action: Specialization Areas
Staffing Levels
Posted December 2012

Hiring Extra Temporary Travel Nurses May Save Lives

To reduce the shortage of available staff nurses, hospitals have hired temporary “travel” nurses without fully knowing the effect on patient outcomes. However, a new study has concluded hiring extra nurses may actually save lives.    After examining data from more than 1.3 million patients and 40,000 nurses in more than 600 hospitals, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing have concluded that the use of such supplemental nurses “does not appear to have deleterious consequences for patient mortality.”   “Our study showed these nurses could be lifesavers.  Hiring temporary nurses can alleviate shortages that could pro...
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Staffing Levels
Posted October 2012

Nursing Workloads Multiply Likelihood of Death among Black Patients over White Patients


​Older black patients are three times more likely than older white patients to suffer poorer outcomes after surgery, including death, when cared for by nurses with higher workloads, reports research from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. The large-scale study showed higher nurse workloads negatively affected older surgical patients generally and that the rate was more significant in older black individuals. When the patient-to-nurse ratio increased above 5:1, the odds of patient death increased by 3 percent per additional patient among whites and by 10 percent per additional patient among blacks. Lead author J. Margo Brooks Carthon, PhD, RN, and Penn Nursing colleagues studied more than 548,000 patients a...

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Staffing Levels
Posted July 2012

Penn Nursing Education Innovation to Produce More Advance Practice Nurses Becomes Part of Affordable Care Act

​Today, the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing with their partner, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, became one of five sites nationally to be funded under the Graduate Nurse Demonstration, a national program to educate more advanced practice nurses (APRNs), who are a crucial component to the success of the Affordable Care Act. The research that was instrumental to including the Demonstration in the Affordable Care Act came largely from Penn Nursing researchers.  Increasing the number of advanced practice nurses is an important way to increase the base of primary care providers in the United States. APR...
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Staffing Levels
Posted March 2012

Quality and Safety Problems in Hospitals


​ In one of the largest studies of its kind, a consortium of investigators from 13 countries led by the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in the U.S. and the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium in Europe, found that nurses who reported better working conditions in hospitals and less likelihood of leaving also had patients who were more satisfied with their hospital stay and rated their hospitals more highly. The study was released today in the current issue of the prestigious British Medical Journal.   The massive study, which in some countries involved ev...

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Staffing Levels
Posted December 2011

To Keep Nurses, Improve Their Work Environments

Nurses working in hospitals around the world are reporting they are burned out and dissatisfied with their jobs, reported researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing’s Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research in a study of 100,000 nurses in nine countries.   Between 20 to 60 percent of nurses reported symptoms of burnout according to the study, published in the International Journal for Quality in Health Care, which collected data from nurses in more than 1,400 hospitals to determine the effect of hospital work environments on hospital outcomes. ...
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Matt McHugh, Assistant Professor, Penn Nursing
Staffing Levels
Posted July 2011

California Nurse Staffing


In a comprehensive analysis comparing nurse staffing in California hospitals to similar hospitals in the U.S. over nearly a decade, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing have found that controversial legislation setting nurse-to-patient ratios added more registered nurses to the hospital staffing mix, not fewer as feared. California was the first state to pass legislation setting staffing levels. However, mindful of the ongoing nurse shortage California legislators determined that hospitals could employ licensed practical nurses (LPN) as well as registered nurses (RN) to meet the requirements of the law. Nevertheless, "California's state–mandated nurse staffing ratios have been shown to be successful in terms of increasing registered nurse staffing. From a policy perspective, this should be useful information to the st...

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Staffing Levels
Posted December 2010

Penn Nursing in The New England Journal of Medicine

The increased numbers of advanced practice nurses needed to provide primary care to the 32 million currently uninsured Americans to be covered under healthcare reform will require far-reaching changes including national uniformity in how nurses are allowed to practice, and how they are educated, such as moving the minimum educational requirement for nurses to the bachelor’s degree, write two Penn Nursing professors in today’s issue of The New England Journal of Medicine in separate articles. “Between 3 and 12 nurse practitioners can be educated for the price of producing one physician, and this can be accomplished more quickly than traditional medical education,” writes nursing professor Julie Fairman, PhD, RN with former Health and Human Secretary Donna Shalala, PhD, now president of the University of Miami urging states to adopt uniform scope of  ...
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Staffing Levels
Posted May 2010

NPs could solve primary care shortage


As the healthcare system braces to absorb 32 million more Americans as a result of reform legislation and the nation faces a shortage of primary care physicians, nurse practitioners (NPs) are the best resource to bridge the gap—but substantial barriers restrict nurse practitioners and other advanced practice registered nurses from filling this void , according to University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing research published  in the current issue of Health Affairs. “The growth of the chronically ill and elderly populations, gaps in health care quality, and increases in health care spending will intensify the demand for high quality primary care services at the same time that supply of primary care physicians is expected to shrink,” said nursing professor Mary D. Naylor, PhD, RN, who conducted a multi-year review of all studies conducted on ...

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Staffing Levels
Posted April 2010

California nurse ratios could prevent thousands of deaths nationwide

In the first comprehensive evaluation of California’s landmark nurse staffing legislation mandating the maximum number of patients in a nurse’s hospital workload, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have determined that the law prevents deaths from common surgeries, with the potential to save thousands of lives nationally. The researchers compared deaths from common surgeries in California from 2005 to 2006, following enactment of the legislation, to surgical deaths in two states without legally mandated patient-to-nurse ratios during that same period, finding that there would have been 13.9 percent fewer surgical deaths in New Jersey and 10.6 percent fewer surgical deaths in Pennsylvania in 2006 if hospitals in these states had been staffed at the same levels set in California hospitals. The study, which involved surveys completed by 22,33...
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