Study: Less nurses in ICU, more vent pneumonia

Put less nurses on duty in your intensive care unit, and patients on respirators are more likely to get pneumonia. That's the conclusion drawn by a study published this week in the journal Critical Care Medicine which looked at the causes and results of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP).

Swiss researchers followed 936 people in the ICU of a hospital in Geneva from admission to discharge, focusing on those who ended up needing ventilators over a four-year period. During that period, there were 262 episodes of VAP, with late-onset VAP accounting for 61 percent of episodes. During the study period, the average nurse-to-patient ratio ran from 1 to 1.9.  Researchers found, however, VAP was associated with ratios of .78 per patient two to four days before early onset of the illness. Also, a ratio of .42 nurses per patient often came two to four days before late-onset VAP.

This is critical information for hospitals to have, particularly given that VAP causes significant increases in mortality and can boost hospital lengths of stay by as much as 50 days.

To find out more about the study:
- read this article in The New York Times (reg. req.)

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