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Magnet hospital work environments linked to high care quality

Thursday March 13, 2014
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A professional practice environment that is supportive of nursing helps explain why Magnet hospitals have better nurse-reported quality of care than non-Magnet hospitals, according to a study.

As published earlier this year in the Journal of Nursing Administration, researchers with the New York University College of Nursing and University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing explored links between recognized nursing excellence and quality patient outcomes.

Only 9% of American hospitals have Magnet recognition, according to an NYU news release, and Magnet hospitals have higher job satisfaction and lower odds of patient mortality than non-Magnet hospitals. Research into the causes of the differences could create an infrastructure for positive change in nurse and patient outcomes.

“Many of the recent efforts to improve quality and enhance transparency in healthcare have been dominated by physician services and medical outcomes,” Amy Witkoski Stimpfel, RN, PhD, assistant professor at NYUCN, said in the news release. “Our study shows that the overall quality of patient care can be optimized when nurses work in a positive environment, with adequate resources and support at the organizational level.”

The study, “Understanding the Role of the Professional Practice Environment on Quality of Care in Magnet and Non-Magnet Hospitals,” focused on cross-sectional data, including the American Hospital Association’s annual survey, and an analysis of 56 Magnet and 495 non-Magnet hospitals.

Witkoski Stimpfel’s team found a clear correlation between positive work environments for nurses and nurse-reported quality of care. Even after taking into consideration hospital characteristic differences between Magnet and non-Magnet hospitals, Magnet hospitals still were positively correlated with higher reports of excellent quality of 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,” Witkoski Stimpfel 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.

“Our findings suggest that Magnet hospitals produce better quality of care through their superior practice environments. Hospitals that invest in improving the nursing work environment have the potential to benefit from increased quality of care for their patients and families.”

Witkoski Stimpfel is continuing to research the outcomes associated with Magnet hospitals. Her current project is an assessment of the relationship between Magnet recognition and patient satisfaction in a national sample of hospitals.

Study abstract: http://journals.lww.com/jonajournal/Abstract/2014/01000/Understanding_the_Role_of_the_Professional.6.aspx


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