A University of Southampton study will investigate how the provision of nurses in hospitals affects the care and safety of patients. The research will examine the relationship between nurse staffing levels, failure to observe patients' vital signs and possible consequences - such as cardiac arrest calls, unanticipated admission to intensive care and death. Missed opportunities to observe and act upon the deterioration of a patient's condition are thought to be important factors in preventable hospital deaths.
Professor Peter Griffiths of Health Sciences at the University of Southampton will lead the research and comments: "The potential for inadequate nursing care to do patients great harm has emerged as a factor in several recent reports into failings in NHS hospitals. These have often noted that staffing levels were an important issue associated with poor care and deaths which could have been avoided. Our study will help give a clear picture of the relationship between staff numbers and negative patient outcomes, using data routinely collected on hospital wards, during thousands of nursing shifts."
In partnership with the Clinical Outcomes Research Group at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust , the researchers will gather information from 32 general inpatient wards across 100,000 shifts. It will use data on nurse staffing levels, combined with vital signs observations and information on the outcome of patients' treatments.
Debra Elliott, Deputy Director of Nursing at PHT, says: "Patient care and patient safety are at the heart of everything we do, and we are delighted to be working with the University of Southampton on this very valuable research. Our participation will enable us to look in unprecedented detail at how staffing levels can impact on patients, and this will be an invaluable learning experience."