The Benefits of Extra Nursing Care in Hospitalized Patients
It is well known that nurses play a pivotal role in the success of hospitals around the world. Physician Lewis Thomas put it perfectly in The Youngest Science, when he said: hospitals are “held together, glued together, enabled to function…by the nurses and nobody else” (Thomas, 1983: 66-67). Currently over 1.5 million registered nurses work in hospitals across the United States, yet the recent economic downturn and other unforeseen pressures have created a massive nursing shortage. This has brought up new concerns regarding the decrease in the quality and quantity of nursing care and its effects on patients’ recovery.
Several recent studies have found correlations between decreased nursing care and higher rates of adverse outcomes for patients. Needleman conclusively states that “in a large sample of hospitals from a diverse group of states…we found an association between the proportion of total hours of nursing care provided by registered nurses…and…length of stay and the rates of urinary tract infections, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, hospital-acquired pneumonia, shock or cardiac arrest, and failure to rescue”. Needleman’s conclusion was that as the total hours of nursing care increased, the length of stay and rate of infection decreased.
Similarly, Sochalski finds that there is a causal relationship between quality of care and patient workload. She states: “the attenuation of its effect suggests that workload affects quality of care both directly as well as through its effects on patient safety and unfinished work”.
These findings suggest a compelling reason to limit the duration of time spent in a busy and understaffed hospital to what is medically necessary. One can take advantage of care outside hospitals which guarantees extra nursing help while recovering in a familiar and calming environment.
 “RN (Registered Nurse) Salary Statistics”, http://onlinelpntorn.org/rn-registered-nurse-salary-statistics/
 Jack Needleman, Ph.D., Peter Buerhaus, Ph.D., R.N., Soeren Mattke, M.D., M.P.H., Maureen Stewart, B.A., and Katya Zelevinsky. “Nurse-Staffing Levels and the Quality of Care in Hospitals”. N Engl J Med 2002; 346:1715-1722
 Julie Sochalski, PhD, RN, FAAN. “Is More Better? The Relationship Between Nurse Staffing and the Quality of Nursing Care in Hospitals”. Med Care 2004;42: II-67–II-73