The study, published in The Lancet, estimated an increase in European hospital nurses' workloads by 1 patient increases the likelihood of in-hospital death by 7 percent. Also, the study found a better educated nurse workforce was associated with fewer deaths -- for every 10 percent increase in nurses with bachelor's degrees, there was an associated drop in the likelihood of death by 7 percent.
A consortium of scientists led by Dr. Linda Aiken of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in Philadelphia, and Dr. Walter Sermeus of the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, reviewed hospital discharge data of nearly 500,000 patients from nine European countries who underwent common surgeries.
The researchers also surveyed more than 26,500 nurses practicing in study hospitals to measure nurse staffing and education levels. The team analyzed the data and surveys to assess the effects of nursing factors on the likelihood of patients dying within 30 days of hospital admission.
"Our findings complement studies in the U.S. linking improved hospital nurse staffing and higher education levels with decreased mortality," Aiken said.