Nursing Demands Affect Patient Outcomes

April 27, 2011 at 8:05 pm

In any job stress can greatly affect the performance of an employee. In health care, this condition is only exacerbated by the fact that the stakes can be impossibly high. A new study by the University of Maryland School of Nursing has some hard facts that show how stressed nurses influence the outcomes of their patients.

Its tough being in an RN to BSN program and once you get your BSN degree, it’s still tough. Don’t get me wrong, nursing is an amazing career and the good that can be done far surpasses the hardships. But with every job, there are mountains to climb and battles to fight.

According to, “Several troubling trends in patient outcomes surfaced as researchers analyzed survey data from 633 nurses in 71 hospitals in North Carolina and Illinois concerning patient outcomes, says lead investigator Alison Trinkoff, ScD, FAAN. For example, pneumonia deaths were significantly more likely in hospitals where nurses reported increased psychological demands and more adverse work schedules. Trinkoff says they measured high psychological demands by very fast work, lack of time to complete work, excessive required work, being slowed by delays from other workers, and frequent interruptions. Another trend was that patients were more likely to develop deep vein thrombosis after surgery in hospitals where nurses reported high psychological demands. Staffing also was controlled in the analysis, so that the effects occurred independent of staffing.”

With budget cuts, health care reformation, and an aging population, the work load doesn’t seem to be subsiding. Health care workers are in demand and a big question that keeps popping up is whether there are enough nursing students to keep up with the demand. Many hospitals are also requiring their RNs to get their BSN degrees to get magnet status. With this new requirement, more stress and less staff seems to be inevitable.

“They found that deaths from heart attacks were associated with nurses frequently working with awkward postures and heavy weekly burdens… Patients were more likely to experience postoperative hemorrhaging when their nurses were frequently interrupted. And, where nurses reported a lack of time away from the job, patients were significantly more likely to develop respiratory failure and infections… Positive aspects of the practice environment, such as peer and supervisor support, did not offset, or balance, the adverse impact of these demands… Hospitals where nurses reported a focus on patient safety were less likely to have such complications or adverse patient outcomes of hospitals where patient safety was not a stated focus.”

As students in an RN to BSN program, it’s important to learn now how to handle stress and stay healthy. Also, it’s never too early to research hospitals and clinics where you may want to work. Finding the right working environment is vital.

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