Magnet: Empowering nurses to provide safer care

Nurse Leader Insider, June 3, 2005

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Magnet: Empowering nurses to provide safer care

It makes sense that hospitals in which nurses feel empowered are those that provide the highest-quality patient care.

Magnet-designated hospitals aim to create this culture of respect and empowerment for nurses by satisfying a set of criteria, set by the American Nurses' Credentialing Center, measuring the strength and quality of nursing.

"Many standards of the Magnet program directly relate to the patient safety initiatives we're deploying in healthcare," says Cole Edmonson, MS, RN, CHE, CNAA, BC, associate administrator of patient care services at Medical City Hospital in Dallas.

The hospital, which was awarded Magnet status in 2003, recognizes the ideal nurse-to-patient ratio identified in literature, but also recognizes that other factors affect this number, including patient acuity, unit geography, nursing competencies, and availability of equipment.

Environment affects care

Lucian Leape, MD, adjunct professor of health policy at the Harvard School of Public Health, recently cited the nursing shortage as a major patient safety issue in healthcare today.

The disrespect of the bedside nurse, who Leape called,"the most important person in patient care," explains why we have a nursing shortage, he said during the first annual Betsy Lehman Center Patient Safety Symposium in Waltham, MA, in December 2004.
Leape called for a culture change that provides respect to workers. Until then, patients won't get the care they deserve, he said.

Build a positive environment for nurses

Creating a positive image of nursing is one of the 14 Forces of Magnetism, the set of criteria by which Magnet hospitals abide.

"An organization that empowers its staff to feel more in control increases staff satisfaction," says Katherine Riley, BSN, RN, director of integrated clinical, access, women's and children's, and social services and Magnet coordinator at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) in Bennington, which was awarded Magnet status in 2002.

"When staff feel the care they deliver is of high quality, it spurs them to deliver even higher-quality care," says Riley.

Source: Adapted from Briefings on Patient Safety (April 2005), published by HCPro, Inc.

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