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Increasing nurse staffing levels in Belgian cardiac surgery centres: a cost-effective patient safety intervention?

Authors

  • Koen Van den Heede,

    1. Koen Van den Heede PhD RN Research Associate Center for Health Services and Nursing Research, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium
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  • Steven Simoens,

    1. Steven Simoens PhD Professor Research Center for Pharmaceutical Care and Pharmacoeconomics, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium
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  • Luwis Diya,

    1. Luwis Diya MSc Research Associate Biostatistical Center, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium
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  • Emmanuel Lesaffre,

    1. Emmanuel Lesaffre PhD Professor, Director Biostatistical Center, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium and Director, Department of Biostatistics, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, Netherlands
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  • Arthur Vleugels,

    1. Arthur Vleugels PhD MD Director Center for Health Services and Nursing Research, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium
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  • Walter Sermeus

    1. Walter Sermeus PhD RN FEANS Program Director Center for Health Services and Nursing Research, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium
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K. Van den Heede: e-mail: koen.vandenheede@med.kuleuven.be

Abstract

van den heede k., simoens s., diya l., lesaffre e., vleugels a. & sermeus w. (2010) Increasing nurse staffing levels in Belgian cardiac surgery centres: a cost-effective patient safety intervention? Journal of Advanced Nursing66(6), 1291–1296.

Abstract

Title. Increasing nurse staffing levels in Belgian cardiac surgery centres: a cost-effective patient safety intervention?.

Aim.  This paper is a report of a cost-effectiveness analysis from a hospital perspective of increased nurse staffing levels (to the level of the 75th percentile) in Belgian general cardiac postoperative nursing units.

Background.  A previous study indicated that increasing nurse staffing levels in Belgian general cardiac postoperative nursing units was associated with lower mortality rates. Research is needed to compare the costs of increased nurse staffing levels with benefits of reducing mortality rates.

Method.  Two types of average national costs were compared. A first calculation included the simulation of an increase in the number of nursing hours per patient day to the 75th percentile for nursing units staffed below that level. For the second calculation (the comparator) we used a ‘do nothing’ alternative. The most recent available data sources were used for the analysis. Results were expressed in the form of the additional costs per avoided death and the additional costs per life-year gained. The analysis used 2007 costing data.

Findings.  The costs of increasing nurse staffing levels to the 75th percentile in Belgian general cardiac postoperative nursing units amounted to €1,211,022. Such nurse staffing levels would avoid an estimated number of 45·9 (95% confidence interval: 22·0–69·4) patient deaths per year and generate 458·86 (95% confidence interval: 219·93–693·79) life-years gained annually. This corresponds with incremental cost-effectiveness ratios of €26,372 per avoided death and €2639 per life-year gained.

Conclusion.  Increasing nurse staffing levels appears to be a cost-effective intervention as compared with other cardiovascular interventions.

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