Magnet status, higher nurse-to-patient staffing levels improve outcomes

Nurse with patient

Magnet hospitals and hospitals with better nurse staffing levels have better surgical outcomes at equal or lower costs than other providers, according to research published in JAMA Surgery.

Researchers, led by Jeffrey H. Silber, M.D., Ph.D., of the Center for Outcomes Research at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, compared 25,076 matched pairs of Medicare surgical patients at more than 300 hospitals. Each pairing underwent the same procedure and were also similar in terms of sex, age and other demographic information, as well as chronic illness or severity of condition.

Silber and his team found better care value at hospitals with better nursing environments and above-average levels of nurse staffing, particularly for higher-risk patients. While these results do not necessarily mean an improved nursing environment improves care value on its own, they wrote, the data suggests that surgical care is higher-value within such environments.

Researchers also found improved nurse staffing is not necessarily financially burdensome and moreover, often pays for itself. They found Magnet hospitals achieve lower mortality rates for the same amount or less simply because they admitted 40 percent fewer intensive care unit patients and reduced average lengths of stay.

"Magnet designation for nursing excellence offers a way for patients to easily identify hospitals where they are more likely to have good outcomes following surgery," study coauthor Matthew McHugh. Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, said in a statement.

Research has also found that patients are more satisfied with care at Magnet hospitals, and that providers with the designation lead in nursing outcomes, FierceHealthcare previously reported. Nurse staffing levels, too, have a significant effect on hospital outcomes, particularly for in-hospital cardiac arrest.

To learn more:
- read the study abstract