UNLV researchers will compare medication errors between internationally educated nurses and American educated nurses in a new study that aims to improve patient safety.
The team will investigate whether language and cultural barriers impede nurses' ability to provide quality care. Researchers will examine medication data from about 2,000 nurses in nine Las Vegas hospitals, examining information such as how errors occur, if the correct medication and dosage levels were administered and if the medication was given at the proper time.
Results from the study could be used to help form national regulations and requirements for nursing education and training.
"Our ultimate goal is to help improve patient safety and quality of care in health care delivery at hospitals and other health care settings," said Jay Shen, an associate professor of healthcare administration and policy at UNLV. "If we can determine why and how nurses are making these errors, hospitals can come up with suitable intervention programs to reduce medication errors and improve patient safety."
The two-year, $300,000 study is funded by the National Board of Nursing and led by Shen from UNLV's School of Community Health Sciences and Yu (Philip) Xu, a professor with the School of Nursing. UNLV's research team will partner with hospitals to examine recent medication error data. Participating hospitals will hire data collectors to assure that the information is accurate and the identity of individual nurses is protected. The hospitals will receive funding from the National Nursing Board to assist with the data collection.
"This is a labor intensive endeavor that deals with important information and we are pleased the hospital realize the significance of this research and how it could potentially improve patient safety and quality of care," Shen said.
Nationwide and in Las Vegas, the healthcare industry is experiencing an unprecedented nursing shortage, resulting in the recruitment of internationally educated nurses. In Las Vegas alone, researchers estimate that as much as 40 percent of registered nurses were educated outside the United States. Nationwide, as much as 15 percent of all registered nurses were educated outside of the country, according to health care industry estimates. This percentage is on the rise as the Health Resources and Services Administration has predicted that 800,000 nurses will be hired in the United States by 2020 to fulfill current staffing needs.
This is the second major study UNLV researchers have conducted on how the population of internationally educated nurses adjusts to the American health care workforce.
In 2010, Xu and Shen completed "Speak for Success," the nation's first research project that evaluated the effectiveness of a comprehensive language and communication training program for currently employed internationally educated nurses.