Quality of Nursing Care on Acute Inpatient Units

Research briefs from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Nursing Research Network identify specific ways nurses affect patient care quality and outcomes. Since 2005, the Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (INQRI) program has supported interdisciplinary teams that involved nursing scholars and scholars from other disciplines in research projects—from the conceptual study design to the adoption in practice of new measures of standards of care.

This research brief identifies and assesses the impact of nurse staffing levels on the quality of patient care.

Key Findings

  • Higher nurse staffing levels on general units were associated with lower rates of congestive heart failure (CHF) mortality, failure to rescue (FTR), infections, and prolonged length of stay.

  • Higher nursing staffing levels on intensive care units were associated with fewer infections and pressure ulcers.

  • A higher proportion of registered nurses (RNs) was associated with reduced rates of FTR and infections on general units and with fewer cases of sepsis and FTR in intensive care units.

  • Hospitals with higher proportions of RNs with baccalaureate nursing degrees had lower CHF mortality, lower rates of pressure ulcers, FTR, post-operative deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism, and shorter length of stay.

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To support interdisciplinary studies that address critical knowledge gaps regarding causal linkages between nursing and health care quality and to synthesize, translate, and disseminate major findings to key stakeholders.

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