Death and hospitalization rates associated with nursing home norovirus outbreaks are tied to lower nurse staffing rates, findings suggest

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Bad outcomes related to norovirus outbreaks in nursing homes are linked to lower daily registered nurse hours per resident, a recent analysis found.

While deaths and hospitalizations are frequently reported during acute gastroenteritis (norovirus) outbreaks, a causal relationship between norovirus and adverse events has been difficult to confirm, according to University of Chicago researchers. To determine causation, the investigators analyzed minimum data set information to compare all-cause mortality and hospitalization rates during norovirus outbreak periods, to rates during non-outbreak periods.

After adjusting for seasonality by month, the rates of hospitalization and death among nursing homes residents were significantly elevated during outbreak periods, investigators found. Additionally, the increase in mortality during outbreak periods was limited to nursing homes with less than 0.75 daily RN hours per bed, according to the data. This pattern was not observed in nursing homes with higher daily RN hours per bed.

The findings are slated to be published in the Oct. 24/31 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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