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Experienced Nurses Are Less Expensive Than You Think

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, January 7, 2014

Healthcare leaders now have data to back up what many already know: More clinical nursing experience means better pediatric patient outcomes.

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.

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3 comments on "Experienced Nurses Are Less Expensive Than You Think"


Judy Martin DMc MSN BSN RN (1/28/2014 at 9:39 PM)
This is an excellent article and long over due. The less experienced RN tends to focus on the task forgetting to look at the actual patient. It is experience and that "gut feeling" that cues the experience nurse to question what the monitor is saying about a patient they know just doesn't look right.

Katie Pierson (1/12/2014 at 10:46 PM)
I have only read this post and not the actual article, but they are making claims that education has an impact as well when the only findings discussed are at the experience level. Does anyone know if the results in the study are directly linked to education as well??

Jodi Dotson (1/8/2014 at 1:26 PM)
It is about time that experience nurses get the recognition they deserve . I wish that my small town of Port Angeles, Wa would take notice. The local hospital hires new grads over experience. So that leaves the experienced ones to take lower paying jobs at the few nursing homes . I do like working with elderly but short staffed 1 nurse to 22-25 patients. Burnout fast. Great topic. Thanks