New research by the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing's Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research shows that patient deaths after common surgeries decrease when hospitals hire more nurses with Baccalaureate-level degrees.
As reported in the March issue of Health Affairs, the researchers found. That if all 134 Pennsylvania hospitals involved in the study had increased the percentage of their nurses with four-year degrees by 10 percentage points, the lives of about 500 patients who had undergone general, vascular, or orthopedic surgery might have been saved,
Less than half (45%) of the nurses in the USA have baccalaureate degrees, according to the most recent data available (2008).
While the study did not pinpoint why more patients survive surgeries, previous work in the Center found that better-prepared nurses offer higher levels of surveillance of patients, noticing subtle shifts in their patients' conditions that can lead to death from complications while there was still time to intervene.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing,. "Baccalaureate nursing programs encompass all of the course work taught in associate degree and diploma programs plus a more in-depth treatment of the physical and social sciences, nursing research, public and community health, nursing management, and the humanities. The additional course work enhances the student's professional development, prepares the new nurse for a broader scope of practice, and provides the nurse with a better understanding of the cultural, political, economic, and social issues that affect patients and influence health care delivery. "
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