Specialty nursing certification contributes to improved surgical patient outcomes, according to a recent study published in the November 2014 issue of AORN Journal.
The study examined surgical patient outcomes in surgical ICUs and surgical units and assessed some of the most common complications in surgical units and their occurrences amongst patients being cared for by certified vs. non-certified nurses.
Researchers studied four specialty certifications commonly held by perioperative nurses in the hospital setting: certified ambulatory perianesthesia nurse, certified postanesthesia nurse, certified nurse operating room and certified RN first assistant.
The research showed higher rates of CPAN and CNOR/CRNFA certification in perioperative units were significantly associated with lower rates of central-line associated bloodstream infections in SICUs. Specifically, the study indicated that a 10% higher rate of CNOR/CRNFA and CPAN certification in perioperative units resulted in 16% and 8% (respectively) lower rates of central-line associated bloodstream infection rates in SICUs, according to a news release. While there has been much anecdotal speculation about the benefits of specialty nursing certification, our aim was to ascertain if a positive connection exists between certification and surgical patient outcomes, said James Stobinski, PhD, RN, CNOR, one of the study authors and director of credentialing and education at CCI. We found that higher rates of CPAN and CNOR/CRNFA contributed to improved surgical patient outcomes in SICUs when controlling for a variety of unit and hospital characteristics.
For the study, which was conducted by the staff at the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators and the University of Kansas and was sponsored by the Competency & Credentialing Institute, researchers analyzed data submitted from participating NDNQI hospitals spanning 447 nursing units. Using 2011 unit-level clinical and administrative data including patient outcomes, staffing and RN education and data specific to national specialty certification and perceptions of the unit practice environment, the researchers assessed the impacts of specific specialty certifications on surgical patient outcomes. Aside from looking solely at what occurred within the OR, the data also assessed how those actions impacted patients as they moved from the OR into other areas of the hospital.
The research results contribute to a better understanding of the value of certification to clinicians, hospital administrators, educators and ultimately patients, Stobinski said in the release. Specialty certification should be considered certainly within nursing, as well as within other healthcare sectors, as a mechanism to ensure the proper protocols are being followed, providing patients with the best care available and keeping associated costs as low as possible.
The study also found that higher rates of CNOR/CRNFA certification in perioperative units were associated with higher rates of hospital-acquired pressure ulcers and unit-acquired pressure ulcers. The association between certification rates and catheter associated urinary tract infections also was investigated, however the results were not found to be statistically significant, according to the release.
The researchers authors have begun a new study that will examine the relationship between nursing demographic factors, certification rates, the nursing work environment and surgical site infections.