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Policy Polit Nurs Pract. 2009 Aug;10(3):180-6. doi: 10.1177/1527154409346322. Epub 2009 Dec 13.

An examination of technical efficiency, quality, and patient safety in acute care nursing units.

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  • 1University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.


Using an innovative statistical approach-data envelopment analysis-the authors examined the technical efficiency of 226 medical, surgical, and medical-surgical nursing units in 118 randomly selected acute care hospitals. The authors used the inputs of registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, and unlicensed hours of care; operating expenses; and number of beds on the unit. Outputs included case mix adjusted discharges, patient satisfaction (as a quality measure), and the rates of medication errors and patient falls (as measures of patient safety). This study found that 60% of units were operating at less than full efficiency. Key areas for improvement included slight reductions in labor hours and large reductions in medication errors and falls. The study findings indicate the importance of improving patient safety as a mechanism to simultaneously improve nursing unit efficiency.

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