Increased nurse OT linked to higher readmission rates

Higher levels of nurse overtime increase the probability of ER visits and readmissions after discharge, according to an online study published in the journal Health Services Research.

In contrast, when hospital units added more registered nurses and cut the amount of RN overtime hours, readmission rates were 44 percent lower for each additional 45 minutes of nursing care per patient per day, while ED visits after discharge saw a drop, as well.

"RN staffing affects the quality of discharge teaching provided to patients, which in turn affects how ready patient feel to go home from the hospital and impacts readmission and ED visit rates in the first 30 days after discharge," said study author Marianne Weiss, an associate professor at Marquette University College of Nursing.

Nurse staffing levels and overtime hours not only impact patient outcomes, but also help hospitals' bottom lines long term. In fact, the 16 nursing units studied could save $11.64 million annually by increasing non-overtime RN hours by 45 minutes, and $544,000 annually by reducing overtime RN hours.

"This study shows us that investing in nursing care hours could potentially be offset by the savings that could be realized in reductions in readmission and emergency department use," Weiss notes.

For more:
- read the Health Behavior News article
- check out the Marquette press release