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Why does NICHE focus so often on nurse/patient staff ratios? A recent study from the Ohio State University (OSU) states that depression is common among nurses and is linked to increased medical errors (https://news.osu.edu/…/nurses-depression-tied-to-increased…/).

In brief, more than 50% of 1790 nurses who responded to the survey reported sub-optimal physical and mental health. “Depression stood out as a major concern,” the study notes. This same group also reported a higher incidence of medical errors than those made by their healthy peers.

In another study, role overload–when a nurse fulfills multiple roles simultaneously and lacks the resources to adequately perform them–predicted stress that correlated with burnout, which itself predicted of depression, absenteeism and turnover ( http://www.sciencedirect.com/…/article/pii/S0020748999000024).

Finally, the Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (INQRI) study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (https://www.rwjf.org/…/inqri-study–nurses-experience-depre…) showed that nurses experience depression (18%) at twice the rate of the general public—and there is a ripple effect among family and coworkers.

The bottom line:
• Presenteeism–working while symptomatic, that is–was associated with an increased number of patient falls, a higher number of medication errors, and a lower quality of care score. Patient experience and patient satisfaction scores correlate with quality.
• Costs of presenteeism associated with errors and falls was estimated at $1,346 per RN and just under $2 billion for the United States annually. (Upper estimates were 6x those dollars.) (See http://journals.lww.com/…/Original_Research___Nurses__Prese…)
• Nursing ratios are important. They are critical for patient safety and a reliable marker for reports of patient experience. NICHE has given high marks to Parkview for its initiative in reaching magnet status: one nurse per four patients in patient care wards. We have commended Dupont Hospital, in past years, for being a top 100 hospital. More recently, we’ve heard Community Health Systems CEO Wayne Smith remark that CHS would target improved patient experience, and we take that to mean increased support for nursing ratios across LHN. We count on our new Lutheran Hospital CEO to reach a previously stated target of at least 1:5.