40 percent of hospitals fail on nursing workforce safe practices

Just weeks after it issued a report that indicated hospitals have made little to no progress on patient safety outcomes, the Leapfrog Group released another report that found many hospitals also fail to adequately support their nurses.

In its latest report, Leapfrog found that 40 percent of participants in its annual hospital survey failed to meet the group's national nursing workforce standard, which is composed of 21 nursing workforce safe practices that Leapfrog developed based on National Quality Forum standards. Some of the required practices include: policies that ensure adequate nurse staffing, inclusion of nurse leaders in the hospital's senior management structure, and adequate funding for nursing services, including support in maintaining professional skills, according to the report.

Nurse leaders in particular can help hospitals improve patient outcomes and cut costs, a pilot program from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses has found, though training gaps and long-held perceptions still keep many nurses out of hospital C-suites, according to FierceHealthcare.

The tide appears to be turning toward better nurse support, however. While only 52 percent of hospitals met the nursing workforce standard in last year's report, the share rose to 60 percent this year. Similarly, 16 percent of hospitals in 2014 achieved Magnet Status--a designation handed out by the American Nurses Credentialing Center--compared to 15.5 percent in 2013, according to the report.

"Anyone who has ever been a patient in a hospital knows how critical the nurses are to health and life," Leah Binder, president and CEO of Leapfrog, said in a statement about the report. "Employers and other purchasers that are part of Leapfrog's movement appreciate the hospitals that voluntarily report this data to us--and then make a commitment to improve."

If hospitals indeed commit to improving their support for nurses, it may take some of the burden off of healthcare workers that already struggle with compassion fatigue, a high incidence of injuries related to patient lifting and workplace violence, as well as peer bullying and general burnout.

To learn more:
- check out the report
- read the statement