By now, it's well established that nurse staffing affects patient outcomes. Among those who helped prove that was Linda Aiken, PhD, RN, whose 2002 research revealed that every additional general surgical patient added to a nurse's workload represents a 7% higher patient mortality rate.
"The big 'ah-ha' in the industry was that [Aiken] found the numbers of nurses taking care of patients was associated with outcomes," says Patricia A. Hickey, PhD, MBA, RN, FAAN, Vice President of Cardiovascular and Critical Care Services at Boston Children's Hospital.
But Hickey was "struck by the fact that none of her studies were done in children's hospitals." Why does that matter? Because children's hospitals are already better staffed than adult hospitals.
In the adult patient world, the number of nurses makes a difference in outcomes, but "we think in children's hospitals, the staffing is already at a level where you won't see the difference," Hickey says. Hickey wanted to dig beyond basic numbers by examining the granular nursing attributes that make a difference in hospitals that are already well-staffed.