Nurses are an “underused resource” for improving patient safety, according to a recently published study.

Nurse researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm conclude that nurses have a unique perspective of the patient care experience and their input should be valued more in patient safety efforts. Nurses at many of the facilities studied were an “underutilized” resource for measuring quality and safety in hospital settings, the study says. (An abstract of the study is available at

The researchers studied relationships between registered nurse assessments of care quality and patient safety, and they compared them with 30-day inpatient mortality post-surgery in acute care hospitals. The data included more than 200,000 surgical procedures performed in 67 hospitals throughout Sweden and survey responses from more than 10,000 nurses.

Researchers Find Link

The researchers found that nurse assessments of excellent patient safety and quality of care were related to significantly reduced odds of patients dying in the hospital within 30 days of admission after general, vascular, or orthopedic surgery.

In hospitals ranking in the top third by percentage of nurses reporting excellent quality of care, patients had 23% lower odds of 30-day inpatient mortality when compared to patients cared for in hospitals in the lowest third.

“RN-assessed excellent patient safety and quality of care are related to significant reductions in odds of 30-day inpatient mortality, suggesting that positive RN reports of quality and safety can be valid indicators of these key variables,” the researchers concluded.