Give nurse leaders clear authority, access to resources to improve outcomes

New research shows that when nurse leaders have clear authority over decision-making and receive adequate access to resources it improves patient outcomes and cuts costs.

The research was presented at the American Organization of Nurse Executives' annual meeting in Fort Worth, Texas, Hospitals and Health Networks reported.

The researchers, Maja Djukic, R.N., and Jeffrey Adams, R.N., noted that nurse leaders represent the biggest chunk of healthcare managers, giving them "tremendous" influence over quality and cost.

Among their findings, as reported by H&HN:

  • A collaborative structure improves communication with doctors and reduces central-line infections compared with hierarchical structures.
  • Urinary tract infection rates improve when nurse leaders have authority and resources.
  • Patient satisfaction, nurse communication, staff responsiveness and overall cleanliness also improve.

The research was described by H&HN as a multisite analysis of nurse leaders' influence in the hospital environment, based on empirical links to nurse leader characteristics at the practice level.

It's not the only research to find a link between nurse leadership and improved outcomes. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) runs a 16-month, hospital-based nurse leadership training program that saves money and improves outcomes by showing nurse leaders how to reduce patient stays in ICUs and progressive care units by up to a day, cut a day off the amount of time patients needed to stay on mechanical ventilators and cut ICU complications and infections by half, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Another study, though, found that nurse leaders are underutilizing evidence-based practices, undercutting efforts to improve quality of care and patient safety, FierceHealthcare recently reported. The irony, researchers said, is that emphasizing evidence-based practices will lead to better quality and patient safety. The same survey of nurse leaders found that nearly half were unsure how to measure outcomes.

To learn more:
- read the H&HN article