Hospitals that apply for Magnet status improve nurse, patient outcomes

Research has already shown that Magnet hospitals boast better outcomes for patients and nurses, but a new study takes this notion even further, as it found that just the process of applying for the elite status can improve care quality and nurse work environment.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center created the Magnet Recognition Program to recognize hospitals that provide quality patient care, nursing excellence and innovations in professional nursing practice, FierceHealthcare has reported. More than 400 hospitals currently claim Magnet status, according to an announcement that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded the study, emailed to FierceHealthcare.

The new study, published in the June issue of the journal Medical Care, comprised 136 Pennsylvania hospitals--125 of which were non-Magnets and 11 of which were "emerging" Magnets, or hospitals undergoing the rigorous, year-long review process to achieve the designation. In comparing hospital data from 1999 through 2006, researchers found that as time went on, emerging Magnet hospitals outpaced their non-Magnet counterparts in several key outcome measures.

For example, emerging Magnets recorded 6.1 fewer deaths per 1,000 patients for failure-to-rescue and 2.4 fewer deaths per 1,000 patients for 30-day surgical mortality. Nurse outcomes also improved for hospitals in the application process, as emerging Magnets showed lower adjusted rates of burnout, job dissatisfaction and intent to quit.

"Our results add to the body of literature that links the quality of the nurse work environment to better patient outcomes and nurses' ability to provide high-quality care," Ann Kutney-Lee, Ph.D, R.N., one of the study's authors, said in the announcement. "This research offers a new angle to support the business case for pursuing Magnet status. We're seeing how the process itself can boost safety for patients and stability for nursing staffs."

Magnet hospitals' use of visible and accessible chief nurses also is a key reason why they produce better patient and nurse outcomes, previous research has indicated. Yet not all providers are able to achieve this ideal, as a recent report from the Leapfrog Group found that 40 percent of participants in its annual hospital survey failed to meet the group's national nursing workforce standard. That same report, though, found that the share of hospitals who achieved Magnet status rose slightly from 2013 to 2014.

To learn more:
- check out the study (subscription required)

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Magnet hospitals have fewer surgical deaths
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