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PSNet: Patient Safety Network
Journal Article

Impact of the nurse shortage on hospital patient care: comparative perspectives.

Buerhaus PI, Donelan K, Ulrich BT, et al. Health affairs (Project Hope). 2007;26:853-62.

Prior research has demonstrated a link between lower nurse staffing, increased mortality rates, and worsened performance on patient safety outcomes. This study surveyed registered nurses, physicians, and hospital chief executive officers (CEOs) and chief nursing officers (CNOs) regarding their perception of the impact of nursing shortages on patient safety and quality of care. While all respondents agreed that the current nursing shortage is serious, physicians and CEOs generally did not believe nursing shortages were closely linked to failure to detect patient complications or worsened patient safety overall. The study is limited by a relatively low response rate, especially among CEOs, but the results do indicate persistent cultural differences among health care professionals regarding approaches to improving safety.