Nurse staffing and post-surgical complications using the present on admission indicator

Authors

  • Barbara A. Mark,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Nursing, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carrington Hall CB7460, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7460
    • School of Nursing, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carrington Hall CB7460, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7460.
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    • Sarah Frances Russell Distinguished Professor.

  • David W. Harless

    1. Department of Economics, School of Business, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
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    • Professor.


Abstract

We evaluated the relationship between registered nurse (RN) staffing and six post-surgical complications: pneumonia, septicemia, urinary tract infections, thrombophlebitis, fluid overload, and decubitus ulcers, in a dataset that contained the present on admission (POA) indicator. We analyzed a longitudinal panel of 283 acute care hospitals in California from 1996 to 2001. Using an adaptation of the Quality Health Outcomes Model, we found no statistically significant relationships between RN staffing and the complications. In addition, the signs of the relationships were opposite to those expected. That is, as staffing increased, so did some of the complications. We discuss potential reasons for these anomalous results, including the possibility that increases in RN staffing may result in earlier detection of complications. Other explanations include issues with risk adjustment, the lack of nurse level variables in the model, and issues with the POA indicator itself. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 33:35–47, 2010

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