The nation's nursing shortage worsened last year, temporarily closing some emergency rooms and delaying admissions and operations, the American Hospital Association said Thursday.

Of 2,000 randomly surveyed hospitals, 78.6 percent reported a nursing shortage in April 1987, up 2.4 percentage points from a year earlier, the association said in a statement."Although fewer hospitals report a severe shortage, we still have the same situation - not enough nurses," said Joan Moss, director of the association's Center for Nursing.

Large hospitals in urbanareas on both coasts were more acutely affected than smaller, rural institutions in the nation's midsection.

To fight the nursing shortage, three out of four hospitals surveyed relied on overtime and 41 percent employed temporary or agency nurses. Foreign nurses were recruited by 10 percent of hospitals, predominately larger hospitals in the East.

The not-for-profit organization acts as an advocate for hospitals and informs the public on health care issues.