Report: Temporary Nurses Do Not Lower Quality of Care
Hospitals' use of temporary nurses does not lower quality of care for patients because the supplemental nurses have the same qualifications as permanent nurses and in some cases are more qualified, according to a recent study in the Journal of Nursing Administration, the Newark Star-Ledger reports.
Lead author Linda Aiken, director of the University of Pennsylvania Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research, and colleagues used data from the 2000 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses to determine if qualifications differed between temporary and permanent nurses. The survey also was used to determine if nurse outcomes and adverse events varied according to the proportion of temporary nurses employed by a hospital.
More than half of the temporary nurses surveyed said that their supplemental positions were secondary to full-time jobs as permanent nurses. About 35% of temporary nurses surveyed work in intensive care units, according to the report. The report also found that temporary nurses were more likely than permanent nurses to hold baccalaureate or other advanced degrees, in addition to being more likely to have received their medical training within the last 10 years.
Aiken said, "There is no evidence whatsoever that the use of supplemental nurses by hospitals has any adverse implications for quality of care," adding, "Indeed, the findings of our study suggest that having more nurses is better for patients and having (temporary nurses) improves quality of care" (Stewart, Newark Star-Ledger, 8/14). An abstract of the study is available online.