Lower Readmissions for Hospitals with Good Nursing Work Environment

Nurses do get the respect they deserve.

According to a new study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Medicare patients treated in hospitals with a good work environment for nurses had up to 10 percent lower odds of readmission than those treated in hospitals with a poor work environment.

After examining data from more than 200,000 nurses and 412 hospitals in California, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, researchers found that the chances of readmission within 30 days among Medicare patients over age 65 with heart failure, heart attack, and pneumonia were as much as 10 percent lower when treated in hospitals with good nursing work environments.

Researchers suggest that system-based interventions to improve care begin within the nursing care environment. Improving nurses’ work environment and reducing nurses’ workload are organization-wide reforms that could result in fewer readmissions for Medicare beneficiaries with common medical conditions. All hospitalized patients are exposed to bedside nursing throughout their stay and combining targeted transitional care, the coordination of healthcare during the transition from hospital to home, with high-quality inpatient nursing care will produce more positive outcomes for all patients, the report continues.

Hiring more staff nurses to cut down on current patient workloads will help the nursing work environment, researchers added. While this may be costly, hospitals may be able to make up for these costs with increased productivity, reduced costs lost to turnover and retraining, improved patient outcomes, and reductions in readmissions and postdischarge services.

Preventable hospital readmissions are a source of unnecessary costs to Medicare — more than $15 billion annually, and Medicare is now penalizing hospitals with excessive rates of readmissions.

The study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute on Nursing Research, Penn Institute on Urban Research, and the Frank Morgan Jones Fund.

Source: University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, December 19, 2013

2012 Healthcare Benchmarks: Reducing Hospital Readmissions

2012 Healthcare Benchmarks: Reducing Hospital Readmissions identifies the key strategies, challenges, target populations and health conditions of 119 healthcare organizations to reduce avoidable rehospitalizations.

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