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JAMA: Nurses key to surviving surgery

Accreditation Insider, January 26, 2016

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A study released in The Journal of the American Medical Association has found that surgery patients in hospitals with better nursing environments receive better care without drastically increasing costs. Researchers found the rate of 30-day mortality rates for postoperative patients was 4.8% at hospitals with more than 1.5 nurses per bed (NPB), while facilities with less than one NPB had mortality rates of 5.8%. The difference was most noticeable for patients in the highest risk quintile, with a mortality rate of 17.2% at magnet hospitals compared to 19.9% at control hospitals.

 “It wasn’t just the number of nurses that made the difference. Magnet status hospitals recognized for having excellent nursing programs and cultures do better,” said study author Linda Aiken, PhD, RN, in a press release.

While there are numerous studies showing the benefits of bigger nursing staff, the costs of hiring new staff has been an impediment for many facilities. Despite this, it was shown that better staffed hospitals actually paid less ($163) overall per patient than understaffed hospitals.

 “A surprising finding was that better nurse staffing throughout the hospital does not have to be more costly,” Aiken said. “Indeed, we found that magnet hospitals achieved lower mortality at the same or lower costs by admitting 40% fewer patients to intensive care units and shortening length of hospital stay.”



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