Give nurses the power to make care decisions to improve patient outcomes

Hospitals that have visible and accessible chief nurses and also involve nurses in care-delivery decisions offer better quality of care, according to a new study published in The Journal of Nursing Administration.

Quality improvement efforts typically focus on the role of physicians and medical outcomes, but hospitals that provide nurses with a positive working environment, resources and support reap the benefits in better patient care, lead author Amy Witkoski Stimpfel, Ph.D., R.N., assistant professor at New York University College of Nursing (NYUCN), said in a study announcement.

The study, conducted by NYUCN and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, examined the relationship between Magnet hospital and nurse-reported quality of care using cross-sectional data, including the American Hospital Association's annual survey, as well as an analysis of 56 Magnet and 495 non-Magnet hospitals. Researchers found that Magnet hospitals correlate with higher reports of excellent quality care.

"Having visible and accessible chief nurses, encouraging and including nurses in decision-making in their unit and throughout the organization, supporting nursing practice and engaging in interdisciplinary patient care, are but a few examples of readily modifiable features of a hospital," she said. "Because all organizations, Magnet and otherwise, have the potential to enrich their practice environment, every organization stands to benefit from improving the organization of nursing care."

The American Nurses Credentialing Center offers magnet recognition to hospitals that provide quality patient care, nursing excellence and innovations in professional nursing practice. Nine percent of U.S. hospitals have Magnet status.

The study underscores results of previous research published in Medical Care, which found Magnet hospitals that invest in nurse staffing, education and work environments achieve better patient outcomes and lower mortality rates.

Surgical mortality was 20 percent lower at magnet hospitals, after adjustments for clinical factors, according to research by the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, FierceHealthcare previously reported. Surgical patients in Magnet hospitals also were 14 percent less likely to die in the hospital within 30 days. In addition, mortality among patients experiencing complications was 12 percent lower than non-Magnet hospitals.

To learn more:
- here's the study abstract
- read the announcement