Patients undergoing surgery in a hospital may be much more likely to suffer surgical errors and complications resulting in a fatality, if the nurses in the hospital do not have bachelor’s degrees in nursing, or are overworked and overstressed. Those findings come from a study conducted in Europe and published recently in The Lancet Journal. According to the findings, there is a very clear association between surgical outcomes, and the quality of nurses as well as the workload of nurses in a hospital.
Nurse Education Levels, Workload Linked to Surgical Errors
The researchers suggest in their study that a safe level of nursing staff in the hospital might help reduce the risk of surgical mortality. The researchers also point to the finding that a nurse’s education levels do affect mortality rates or surgical outcomes for patients who have undergone surgery in the hospital.
During their study, the researchers reviewed more than 26,500 nurses, and analyzed medical records involving more than 420,000 patients who had undergone common surgical procedures. The researchers found with every additional patient added to a nurse’s workload, the risk of the patient dying within 30 days of the surgery actually increased by 7%. Additionally, the study found if there was a 10% increase in the proportion of nurses who had a bachelor’s degree in nursing, there was a corresponding 7% decrease in a patient's risk of death after the surgery.
Traditionally, conventional wisdom in the industry has held that experienced nurses are much more important in a hospital setting, than educated or qualified nurses. This study seems to debunk that belief. The researchers recommend maintaining an optimum caseload of six patients instead of the current 8, and increasing the proportion of nurses with a bachelor's degrees in nursing to 60%, could help reduce a patient's risk of post-surgical mortality by as much as 30%.