PLoS One. 2022 Oct 19;17(10):e0275500. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0275500. eCollection 2022.
OBJECTIVE: This study aims to investigate the relationship between RNs and hospital-based medical specialties staffing levels with inpatient COVID-19 mortality rates.
METHODS: We relied on data from AHA Annual Survey Database, Area Health Resource File, and UnitedHealth Group Clinical Discovery Database. In phase 1 of the analysis, we estimated the risk-standardized event rates (RSERs) based on 95,915 patients in the UnitedHealth Group Database 1,398 hospitals. We then used beta regression to analyze the association between hospital- and county- level factors with risk-standardized inpatient COVID-19 mortality rates from March 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.
RESULTS: Higher staffing levels of RNs and emergency medicine physicians were associated with lower COVID-19 mortality rates. Moreover, larger teaching hospitals located in urban settings had higher COVID-19 mortality rates. Finally, counties with greater social vulnerability, specifically in terms of housing type and transportation, and those with high infection rates had the worst patient mortality rates.
CONCLUSION: Higher staffing levels are associated with lower inpatient mortality rates for COVID-19 patients. More research is needed to determine appropriate staffing levels and how staffing levels interact with other factors such as teams, leadership, and culture to impact patient care during pandemics.