Many Illinois, New York hospitals were understaffed before pandemic, study finds

Most nurses in New York and Illinois hospitals were burned out and working in understaffed conditions before the first surge of COVID-19 cases, according to a study published Aug. 18 in BMJ Quality & Safety. 

The study — led by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia — examined survey data from nurses and patients in 254 New York and Illinois hospitals between December 2019 and February 2020. Researchers surveyed registered nurses holding active licenses to practice in New York state and Illinois during the study period and then linked that data to patient data from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems and American Hospital Association Annual Survey.

Researchers found mean staffing ratios in general adult medical and surgical units that varied from 3.3 to 9.7 patients per nurse, with the worst mean staffing in New York City. They also found that more than half of nurses in both states experienced high burnout due to high workloads. Additionally, one-third of patients did not give their New York and Illinois hospitals excellent ratings and said they definitely would not recommend the facility to others.   

“Hospital nurses were burned out and working in understaffed conditions in the weeks prior to the first wave of COVID-19 cases, posing risks to the public’s health,” the study concludes. “Such risks could be addressed by safe nurse staffing policies currently under consideration.” 

Read more about the study here


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