Hospitals with well-staffed, high-quality nursing departments had fewer deaths after surgery compared with hospitals without those attributes, according to a study published Jan. 20 in JAMA Surgery. Hospitals with the better nursing departments also had fewer patients die after a surgical complication, according to the study.
In the study, hospitals were considered to have good nursing environments if they had more than one nurse for every hospital bed and also were certified as Magnet hospitals by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
The study included 25,752 elderly Medicare general surgery patients treated at hospitals with good nursing environments and 62,882 patients treated at hospitals without good nursing environments as defined by the study. Hospitals were in Illinois, New York and Texas. In the hospitals with good nursing environments, 4.8% of patients died within 30 days of arriving at the hospital, compared with 5.8% of patients at the other hospitals, according to the study. “This study is for the person, referring doctor or health policy analyst asking, ‘Would I be better off at this hospital or that hospital?’” lead author Jeffrey Silber, MD, said in a recent Reuters article about the study. Silber is the Nancy Abramson Wolfson Professor in Health Services Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
In the study, the difference in death rates was most pronounced among the least healthy patients, who were nearly 3 percentage points less likely to die at hospitals with good nursing environments, according Reuters.
In addition, 7.5% of patients at hospitals with good nursing environments died after complications, compared with 8.9% of patients at other hospitals, according to the article.“We didn’t expect to see that big of a difference,” Silber said in the article. He added, however, the new study can’t prove that a good nursing environment causes these better outcomes. “We’re showing how important the marker of nursing is, but I certainly wouldn’t ignore other characteristics,” Silber said in the article.
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