‘Failure to maintain’: care rationing and the clinical and financial burden of nurse sensitive hospital-acquired complications in complex older patients

  • Kasia Bail

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Background: The ageing population, with concomitant increase in chronic conditions, is increasing the presence of older people with complex needs in hospital. People with dementia are one of these complex populations and are particularly vulnerable to complications in hospital. Registered nurses can offer simultaneous assessment and intervention to prevent or mitigate hospital-acquired complications through their skilled brokerage between patient needs and hospital functions. A range of patient outcome measures that are sensitive to nursing care has been tested in nursing work environments across the world. However, none of these measures have focused on hospitalised older patients. Method: This thesis explores nursing-sensitive complications for older patients with and without dementia using an internationally recognised, risk-adjusted patient outcome approach. Specifically explored are: the differences between rates of complications; the costs of complications; and cost comparisons of patient complexity. A retrospective cohort study of an Australian state’s 2006–07 public hospital discharge data was utilised to identify patient episodes for people over age 50 (N=222,440) where dementia was identified as a primary or secondary diagnosis (N=44,422). Extra costs for patient episodes were estimated based on length of stay (LOS) above the average for each patient’s Diagnosis Related Group (DRG) (N=157,178) and were modelled using linear regression analysis to establish the strongest patient complexity predictors of cost. Results: Hospitalised patients with a primary or secondary diagnosis of dementia had higher rates of complications than did their same-age peers. The highest rates and relative risk for people with dementia were found in four key complications: urinary tract infections; pressure injuries; pneumonia, and delirium.
    Date of Award2016
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorHelen Berry (Supervisor) & Laurie Grealish (Supervisor)

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