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Poor Environment, Higher Patient Loads Linked to Missed Pediatric Care

A new study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing determined that pediatric nurses with poor work environments and higher patient loads are more likely to miss required care. Researchers surveyed approximately 2,187 pediatric registered nurses in 223 hospitals between 2006 and 2008.

More than half of the nurses in the survey reported having missed at least one care activity. Care activities such as planning, comforting, teaching, and counseling were missed most frequently, while pain management, treatments, and procedures were missed rarely.

Eileen T. Lake, an associate professor of Nursing and Health Policy at Penn Nursing and first author of the study, noted that attention to quality care is especially significant in pediatric nursing.

“Given that children are a particularly vulnerable population, our question was, ‘To what extent do nurses in pediatrics miss care and how does it relate to levels of staffing and their work environment?’” Lake said in a press release.

The quality of a hospital’s work environment was based on a number of factors including the nursing staff’s relationships with physicians, whether they had capable and supportive nurse managers, and whether they had the necessary staff and resources.

Lake’s research team found that 61 percent of nurses in a poor work environment missed care while only 46 percent of nurses in better environments reported missing a care activity. According to the study, work load also impacted a nurse’s ability to provide care. For each additional patient, nurses were 70 percent more likely to miss a care activity.

“The implications are that quality of care differs pretty significantly across institutions and that if we can either provide better staffing or better work environments or both that nurses can get their care completed,” stated Lake.

You can read more about the study’s findings in the June edition of Hospital Pediatrics.


Elena Barker

Elena Barker is a professional writer for Medical Solutions, one of the nation's largest travel nurse staffing companies. Elena specializes in writing about the healthcare staffing industry.

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