Registered nurses in hospitals often lack the time for nursing care activities, such as comfort or talk with patients or educating patients and relatives. A study by the Institute of Nursing Sciences at the University of Basel shows that all European countries are affected, but variability in these and other important aspects of nursing care between and within countries was found. The results have been published in the journal "BMJ Quality & Safety".
Due to Budget constraints registered nurses are often confronted with difficult decisions: They have to decide which care activities they can offer to their patients and which to omit. Recent studies have analyzed this international phenomenon and revealed a correlation between omitted nursing care and increased patient mortality.
The Institute of Nursing Sciences at the University of Basel has for the first time conducted a study on the prevalence and nature of omitted nursing activities on general medical/surgical wards in acute care hospitals across Europe. Data analysis included responses of 33'659 nurses in 488 hospitals across twelve European countries, namely Belgium, England, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain and Switzerland. These survey data were originally collected for the international RN4CAST study (Nurse forecasting in Europe), which was funded within the European Union's Seventh Framework Program.
Four out of thirteen care activities are left undone
Across Europe four out of thirteen nursing activities were omitted by healthcare professionals on average. However, high between-country and within-country variability was observed. The results show a similar pattern across Europe: Psychoeducational care (for example talking with patients or the education of patients and their relatives) were more often omitted than activities, such as the documenting and planning of care, patient monitoring, the turning of patients or administering medications on time.
"Although psychoeducational care activities have always been part of the core tasks of nursing our study demonstrates that they are often left undone due to limited resources and lack of time. Nurses give them lower priority, because they are time-consuming and the required time-effort is difficult to estimate", explains Dr. René Schwendimann, head of the Swiss research group.