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Study: Risk of death lower at Magnet hospitals


Surgical patients treated in Magnet hospitals had 14% lower odds of death than those in non-Magnet hospitals in a four-state study of 564 hospitals.

Magnet hospitals had significantly better work environments and higher proportions of nurses with bachelor’s degrees and specialty certification, reported researchers with the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. Although these nursing factors explained much of the Magnet hospital effect on patient outcomes, the researchers found the lower odds of mortality and 12% lower odds of failure-to rescue after controlling for nursing factors and hospital and patient characteristics.

“The lower mortality we find in Magnet hospitals is largely attributable to measured nursing characteristics, but there is a mortality advantage above and beyond what we could measure,” the researchers wrote.

Matthew D. McHugh, RN, PhD, JD, MPH, CRNP, the study’s lead author and a public health policy expert at Penn Nursing, said the “better outcomes can be attributed in large part to investments in high qualified and highly educated nurses, and practice environments supportive of high-quality nursing care,”

Ongoing research indicates “higher levels of nurse satisfaction, less nurse burnout, lower patient fall rates and lower mortality among very low birthweight infants” in Magnet hospitals, McHugh and coauthors wrote on the website of the journal Medical Care. “Magnet hospitals have reputations for being good places for nurses to work.

“Our findings reinforce that better work environments for nurses are the distinguishing factor between Magnet and non-Magnet hospitals and are the key to better patient outcomes.”

The number of Magnet-recognized hospitals in the U.S. is about 400, or about 8% of hospitals nationally. This study took place in California, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, which together account for more than 20% of hospitalizations annually. Nearly 100,000 RNs in 56 Magnet and 508 non-Magnet hospitals took part in the study.

“The Magnet recognition program is not the only means of improving the work environment, but it may provide a replicable blueprint for doing so, to the benefit of nurses and patients,” McHugh said. “Hospitals that have earned Magnet status have seen improvement in patient outcomes, suggesting that the process of applying for and retaining Magnet recognition, and the networking opportunities that come with Magnet recognition, may promote continuing quality improvement and organizational innovation.”

The study abstract is available at


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