Evidence shows hospitals with better nursing resources have better outcomes but few studies have shown that outcomes change over time within hospitals as nursing resources change.
To determine whether changes in nursing resources over time within hospitals are related to changes in quality of care and patient safety.
Multilevel logistic response models, using data from a panel of 737 hospitals in which cross-sections of nurse informants surveyed in 2006 and 2016, were used to simultaneously estimate longitudinal and cross-sectional associations between nursing resources, quality of care, and patient safety.
Nursing resources included hospital-level measures of work environments, nurse staffing, and nurse education. Care quality was measured by overall rating of care quality, confidence in patients managing care after discharge, confidence in management resolving patient care problems; patient safety was measured by patient safety grade, concern with mistakes, and freedom to question authority.
After taking into account cross-sectional differences between hospitals, differences among nurses within hospitals, and potential confounding variables, changes within hospitals in nursing resources were associated with significant changes in quality of care and patient safety. Improvements in work environment of 1 SD decrease odds of unfavorable quality care and patient safety by factors ranging from 0.82 to 0.97.
Improvements within hospitals in work environments, nurse staffing, and educational composition of nurses coincide with improvements in quality of care and patient safety. Cross-sectional results closely approximate longitudinal panel results.