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D. Patient Deaths and Ill Health Linked to a Nurse Shortage

Narrator:This is Science Today. A recent, national study has found that a shortage of nurses contributes to nearly a quarter of the problems that result in death or injury to hospital patients. Charlene Harrington, a social and behavioral scientist at the University of California, San Francisco, says this shortage has also been identified in nursing homes.

Harrington: The nurses that go to work for nursing homes tend to be less well educated than the ones that go to hospitals because they're making about fifteen percent below what they would make in a hospital. So you have a very unstable labor situation.

Narrator: Harrington was part of a study based on an expert panel of nursing home care, which recommends better staffing.

Harrington: It's really a deplorable situation because in this country, probably a third of the nursing homes are below standard. And there's one point eight million people in nursing homes and so one third of them are getting poor care and that is in large part because of poor staffing.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.