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Health Agencies Update
January 20, 1999

Complications After Surgery

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JAMA. 1999;281(3):222. doi:10.1001/jama.281.3.222-JHA80011-4-1

Patients undergoing surgery at hospitals with fewer full-time registered nurses are more likely to develop an avoidable complication, says the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. The study was published in the Fourth Quarter 1998 issue of Image, a nursing journal.

An analysis of data from 506 hospitals in 10 states revealed that the fewer full-time-equivalent registered nurses per inpatient day that a hospital has on staff, the greater the likelihood that its patients will develop such complications as urinary tract infection, pneumonia, thrombosis, or pulmonary congestion. Closer monitoring by nurses, getting patients out of bed and walking after surgery, and other nursing interventions often can prevent such complications.