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Research shows improved nurse staffing is associated with 25 per cent fewer patient deaths

Tuesday, 07 September 2010


Improved nurse staffing levels were associated with a 25 per cent decrease in the rate of patient deaths, according to a study conducted by ECU researchers.

Workforce projections indicate that by 2012 there will be an estimated shortfall of 61,000 registered nurses in Australia. However, research conducted by ECU demonstrates that patient safety improves when hospitals employ more nurses and improvements in nurse staffing is a cost-effective investment for the health system.

The research entitled, The impact of nursing hours per patient day (NHPPD) staffing method on patient outcomes: A retrospective analysis of patient and staffing data, was conducted over a four-year period starting in 2002 when the NHPPD method was first implemented.

Led by Head of the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Postgraduate Medicine, Professor Di Twigg, the research is one of the first studies to examine this specific nurse staffing policy.

Professor Twigg says the research argues that the number of nurses is important to patient safety and strategies must be developed to ensure an adequate nursing workforce. This must be recognised as a shared responsibility between policy makers and the nursing profession. 

“Nurses play a vital role in terms of enabling the early detection and prompt intervention when patients’ conditions deteriorate. The ability of nurses to initiate actions that minimise adverse events and negative outcomes for patients is directly linked to the hours of care provided.

“The findings of this study are supported by similar findings internationally. It is time that this evidence influences policy and future nursing workforce planning in Australia,” said Professor Twigg.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kerry Cox says research at ECU both extends knowledge and improves the quality of life for Australians and people around the world. 

“Professor Twigg’s research is a prime example of the University’s commitment to working towards solving real problems across the social, economical, physical and environmental spectrums.”

For information about nursing at ECU visit


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