Provisions of the Affordable Care Act that increase hospitals’ financial accountability for preventable readmissions have heightened interest in identifying system-level interventions to reduce readmissions.
To determine the relationship between hospital nursing; that is, nurse work environment, nurse staffing levels, and nurse education, and 30-day readmissions among Medicare patients with heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, and pneumonia.
Analysis of linked data from California, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania that included information on the organization of hospital nursing (ie, work environment, patient-to-nurse ratios, and proportion of nurses holding a BSN degree) from a survey of nurses, as well as patient discharge data, and American Hospital Association Annual Survey data. Robust logistic regression was used to estimate the relationship between nursing factors and 30-day readmission.
Nearly 1 quarter of heart failure index admissions [23.3% (n=39,954)], 19.1% (n=12,131) of myocardial infarction admissions, and 17.8% (n=25,169) of pneumonia admissions were readmitted within 30 days. Each additional patient per nurse in the average nurse’s workload was associated with a 7% higher odds of readmission for heart failure [odds ratio (OR)=1.07; confidence interval CI, 1.05–1.09], 6% for pneumonia patients (OR=1.06; CI, 1.03–1.09), and 9% for myocardial infarction patients (OR=1.09; CI, 1.05–1.13). Care in a hospital with a good versus poor work environment was associated with odds of readmission that were 7% lower for heart failure (OR=0.93; CI, 0.89–0.97), 6% lower for myocardial infarction (OR=0.94; CI, 0.88–0.98), and 10% lower for pneumonia (OR=0.90; CI, 0.85–0.96) patients.
Improving nurses’ work environments and staffing may be effective interventions for preventing readmissions.
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Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
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Funded by the National Institute on Aging (R01AG041099-01, McHugh), National Institute of Nursing Research (R01-NR-004513, P30-NR-005043; Aiken), Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Research and Training special projects grant (McHugh), Penn Institute on Urban Research, Elder Friendly Urban Environment (Sullivan-Marx), Frank Morgan Jones Fund (McHugh), and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholars program (McHugh).
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Reprints: Matthew D. McHugh, PhD, JD, MPH, RN, Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, 418 Curie Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19104-4217. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.