The impact of the nursing hours per patient day (NHPPD) staffing method on patient outcomes: A retrospective analysis of patient and staffing data

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Journal Article
International Journal of Nursing Studies, 2011, 48 (5), pp. 540 - 548
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Background: In March 2002 the Australian Industrial Relations Commission ordered the introduction of a new staffing method - nursing hours per patient day (NHPPD) - for implementation in Western Australia public hospitals. This method used a "bottom up" approach to classify each hospital ward into one of seven categories using characteristics such as patient complexity, intervention levels, the presence of high dependency beds, the emergency/elective patient mix and patient turnover. Once classified, NHPPD were allocated for each ward. Objectives: The objective of this study was to determine the impact of implementing the NHPPD staffing method on 14 nursing-sensitive outcomes: central nervous system complications, wound infections, pulmonary failure, urinary tract infection, pressure ulcer, pneumonia, deep vein thrombosis, ulcer/gastritis/upper gastrointestinal bleed, sepsis, physiologic/metabolic derangement, shock/cardiac arrest, mortality, failure to rescue and length of stay. Design and setting: The research design was an interrupted time series using retrospective analysis of patient and staffing administrative data from three adult tertiary hospitals in metropolitan Perth over a 4-year period. Sample: All patient records (N= 236,454) and nurse staffing records (N= 150,925) from NHPPD wards were included. Results: The study found significant decreases in the rates of nine nursing-sensitive outcomes when examining hospital-level data following implementation of NHPPD; mortality, central nervous system complications, pressure ulcers, deep vein thrombosis, sepsis, ulcer/gastritis/upper gastrointestinal bleed shock/cardiac arrest, pneumonia and average length of stay. At the ward level, significant decreases in the rates of five nursing-sensitive outcomes; mortality, shock/cardiac arrest, ulcer/gastritis/upper gastrointestinal bleed, length of stay and urinary tract infections occurred. Conclusions: The findings provide evidence to support the continuation of the NHPPD staffing method. They also add to evidence about the importance of nurse staffing to patient safety; evidence that must influence policy. This study is one of the first to empirically review a specific nurse staffing method, based on an individual assessment of each ward to determine staffing requirements, rather than a "one-size-fits-all" approach. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
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