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Vol. LXVI, No. 6
March 14, 2014
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Digest

Nurse Staffing, Education Linked to Reduced Patient

Known as Registered Nurses Forecasting, an NINR co-funded study estimated that an increase in hospital nurses’ workloads by one patient increases the likelihood of in-hospital death by 7 percent. Also, a better educated nurse workforce was associated with fewer deaths.

Known as Registered Nurses Forecasting, an NINR co-funded study estimated that an increase in hospital nursesí workloads by one patient increases the likelihood of in-hospital death by 7 percent. Also, a better educated nurse workforce was associated with fewer deaths.

Hospitals in Europe where nursing staff care for fewer patients and have a higher proportion of bachelor’s degree-trained nurses had significantly fewer surgical patients die while hospitalized according to a new study. These findings underscore the potential risks to patients when nurse staffing is cut and suggest an increased emphasis on bachelor’s education for nurses could reduce hospital deaths.

The study, supported by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme and NINR, is the largest and most detailed analysis to date of patient outcomes associated with nurse staffing and education in Europe. Known as Registered Nurses Forecasting, the study estimated that an increase in hospital nurses’ workloads by one patient increases the likelihood of in-hospital death by 7 percent. Also, a better educated nurse workforce was associated with fewer deaths. For every 10 percent increase in nurses with bachelor’s degrees, there was an associated drop in the likelihood of death by 7 percent. The results of the study were published in the Feb. 25 issue of The Lancet.

“Building the scientific foundation for clinical practice has long been a crucial goal of nursing research and the work supported by NINR,” said NINR director Dr. Patricia Grady. “This study emphasizes the role that nurses play in ensuring successful patient outcomes and underscores the need for a well-educated nursing workforce.”

Researchers Identify Mutation Linked to Severe Form of Cushing’s Syndrome

Mutations in a gene containing part of the information needed to make an enzyme that provides energy for governing basic cell functions appear to contribute to a severe form of Cushing’s syndrome, according to researchers at NIH and nine European research institutions.

Cushing’s syndrome results when the body is exposed to too much of the stress hormone cortisol. The syndrome may result when the body itself produces excess cortisol, causing symptoms that may include high blood pressure, muscle weakness or osteoporosis.

The study was published online in the New England Journal of Medicine. In a letter to the editor of the journal, members of the NIH research team and researchers in Italy reported that a mutation in another gene containing information needed to make yet another portion of the enzyme appears to be central to Carney complex, a rare disease that causes multiple tumors and is characterized by increased cortisone levels.

“The mutation we identified appears to give rise to one of the most common kinds of adrenal tumors seen in Cushing’s syndrome,” said study co-first author Dr. Constantine Stratakis of NICHD. “The discovery suggests a clear path forward for investigating medications that might block the production of excess cortisol.”

NIH Adds Substantial Set of Genetic, Health Information to Online Database

Researchers will now have access to genetic data linked to medical information on a diverse group of more than 78,000 people, enabling investigations into many diseases and conditions. The data, from one of the nation’s largest and most diverse genomics projects—Genetic Epidemiology Research on Aging (GERA)—have just been made available to qualified researchers through the database of Genotypes and Phenotypes (dbGaP), an NIH online genetics database.

The GERA cohort—average age 63—was developed collaboratively by Kaiser Permanente and the University of California, San Francisco. The addition of the data to dbGaP was made possible with $24.9 million in support from NIA, NIMH and the Office of the Director. Dr. Catherine Schaefer of Kaiser Permanente Northern California and Dr. Neil Risch of UCSF are co-principal investigators for GERA.

“Data from this immense and ethnically diverse population will be a tremendous resource for science,” said NIH director Dr. Francis Collins.

The GERA cohort is part of the Research Program on Genes, Environment and Health (RPGEH), which includes more than 430,000 adult members of the Kaiser Permanente Northern California system. Data from this larger cohort include electronic medical records, behavioral and demographic information from surveys and saliva samples from 200,000 participants obtained with informed consent for genomic and other analyses. The RPGEH database was made possible largely through early support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to accelerate such health research.—compiled by Carla Garnett


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