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Better Nurse Staffing Requires a Strong Business Case

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, March 26, 2013

From examining nurse staffing issues to bringing nurses' depression out of the dark, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (INQRI) is helping to improve nursing.

A review of research studies funded by INQRI found a significant increase in the amount and quality of research evidence that links nursing and quality of care since 2005. Also, INQRI has increased and improved the set of research measures that can be used to identify and quantify nurses' contributions to improving acute patient care, the review showed.

Moreover, the most vulnerable babies are also the ones that are most understaffed. And troublingly, the study found that nurse understaffing was associated with higher rates of infections among NICU babies.

Take one of the latest of these studies, out this month, which shows that nurse understaffing is rampant in NICUs. The study, published in the journal JAMA-Pediatrics, found that very few neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) provide sufficient numbers of nurses to meet the American Academy of Pediatrics' staffing guidelines.

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