The Impact of Nurse Staffing on In-Hospital Mortality of Stroke Patients in Korea

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Abstract

Background:

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in Korea, and a well-qualified, adequate nursing force achieves better patient outcomes.

Study Purposes:

This study examined the association between nurse staffing and in-hospital mortality among stroke patients in a nationally representative sample.

Methods:

This cross-sectional retrospective study was conducted using 2009 National Health Insurance claims data of stroke patients admitted to variously sized Korean hospitals. The data included patient (individual and clinical) and hospital characteristics. Mortality was measured using crude in-hospital mortality rates; nurse staffing was expressed as number of registered nurses per 100 beds. Logistic regression was used to study the association between nurse staffing and patient mortality during hospitalization, after adjusting for related factors.

Results:

The data of 11 819 stroke inpatients from 615 hospitals were analyzed. Mean patient age was 66.9 ± 13.1 years, 47.5% were women, 77.4% were ischemic patients, and 20.3% underwent surgery. The crude in-hospital mortality rate was 5.5%. Nurse staffing was found to be negatively related to mortality (odds ratio, 0.988; 95% confidence interval, 0.977–0.999), after controlling for major confounders, such as comorbidities, physician-to-bed ratio, and medical costs.

Conclusion:

Policies to educate sufficient numbers of nurses and retain them in the field are warranted, especially because medical-cost containment has become a dominant concern in most countries. Further studies are needed to understand the mechanisms and other protective roles of nurse staffing to ensure long-term health outcomes after hospital discharge.

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