FRIDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- The ratio of specialty nurses to very low birth weight and preterm infants in the neonatal intensive care unit is associated with outcomes, with better survival when more nurses are available, according to a prospective study in the March issue of the Archives of Disease in Childhood -- Fetal and Neonatal Edition.

Karen E. StC Hamilton, M.D., of the University of Oxford in Oxford, U.K., and colleagues examined the relationship between nurse staffing and risk-adjusted mortality in 2,585 very low birth weight or preterm infants in 54 neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) in the United Kingdom.

Overall, 57 percent of nursing shifts were understaffed with larger shortages occurring on weekends and during the night. The median specialist nursing provision ratio was 1:3, while 14.8 percent of NICUs had an average specialist nursing provision ratio of less than one. The infant mortality rate was 10.4 percent. The risk of mortality decreased by 48 percent when the ratio of nurses to infants was increased to 1:1.

"Increasing the ratio of specialist nurses to intensive care and high dependency infants may increase chance of survival in very low birth weight and preterm infants," the study authors conclude.

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Denise Mann

Updated on June 12, 2022

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