Patients in hospitals that employ more educated nurses have better survival rates, according to new research out of the US.

The higher the proportion of college educated nurses in a hospital, the higher the survival rate, the research showed, with the strongest increase in survival recorded for patients living with dementia.

In 2010, the US Institute of Medicine called for 80 per cent of hospital nurses to have at least a college degree by 2020.

“Our findings suggest that transitioning to a largely (college-educated) nursing workforce… would contribute to improved surgical outcomes for this population,” said lead study author Elizabeth White, a geriatric nurse practitioner and researcher at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in Philadelphia.

“College educated nurses spend more time training for sicker patients”

“Nurses with at least a bachelor’s degree have likely spent more time training to care for sicker patients with a greater burden of medical illnesses and who require more complicated medical care,” Jennifer Watt, a geriatrician at St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto in Canada, told the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The study

The study followed 46,163 people with Alzheimer’s or dementia and a control group of 307,170 patients who didn’t have these conditions.

Overall, 12,369 patients, or 3.5 percent, died within 30 days of admission to the hospital, according to reports in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Sadly, the mortality rate for dementia patients, at 8 per cent, was much higher than that for people without dementia, at less than 3 per cent.

In the hospitals examined, 38 per cent of nurses had at least a four-year bachelor’s degree, but in some hospitals no nurses had bachelor degrees, while in others the proportion was as high as 74 per cent.

The researchers found that for each 10 per cent increase in the proportion of nurses with at least a bachelor’s degree, the chance of dying was 4 per cent lower for patients without dementia and an even more impressive 10 per cent lower for patients with dementia.

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