A review of nursing care has found a link between low levels of nursing staff and higher patient death rates in hospitals.
The review, carried out across hospitals in nine European countries and observing over 422,000 patients, was published in The Lancet journal. It found that in the UK, the average nurse looks after nine patients. That is a higher average than other European countries, such as Norway (5) and the Republic of Ireland (7).
It was found that when the number of patients a nurse looks after is increased by one, the chance of a patient dying within 30 days of admission increases by 7%.
The study also found that death rates are lower when nurses hold a bachelor degree, with a 10% increase in nurses holding a degree associated with 7% lower death rates.
Combining these findings, it appears that hospitals where nurses had lighter workloads and were more qualified, had 30% lower death rates.
Since September 2013, all newly-qualified nurses in the UK must obtain a bachelor degree. This is a move that may prove to be a wise decision, given the impact a degree level education appears to be having on death rates.
Would you prefer a nurse who was treating you to have had a University education? Or would you feel more comfortable if they had more traditional, vocational training? Let us know your opinion.
By Ruth Eardley, graduate paralegal in the clinical negligence department