Increased nurse staff levels tied to lower odds of Medicare readmissions penalties, s

  1. 4
    Nursing unions wanting higher staffing ratios have more ammunition thanks to a new study concluding that increasing nurse staffing levels could help hospitals avoid Medicare penalties for avoidable readmissions.

    The study covered readmissions of Medicare patients who suffered heart attacks, heart failure or pneumonia. It appears in the October issue of Health Affairs. ...

    ... The researchers, led by Matthew McHugh, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, looked at nurse staffing levels and readmission data from 2,826 hospitals. They found that hospitals with high nurse staff levels, as considered by researchers, had 25% lower odds of being penalized compared to facilities with lower nurse-staffing ratios. Higher-nurse staffed hospitals also had 41% lower odds of receiving the maximum penalty for readmissions. The study used American Hospital Association staffing data for the study.

    The research team estimated that each additional nurse hour per patient day brought 10% lower odds of receiving penalties from the Hospital Readmissions Program, the federal effort that started in October 2012 and aimed to reduce the $15 billion in annual Medicare expenditures on preventable readmissions. Hospitals paid about $280 million in penalties for preventable readmissions in fiscal 2013....

    ... In a news release, McHugh said nurses are responsible for many activities associated with reducing readmissions, including coordinating care, overseeing care in the hospital, planning for patients' discharge from the hospitals, and educating patients and their families about what to do when they return home.
    "It's rather intuitive that when they have adequate staffing and resources to carry out these activities properly, readmission rates decline. This study strongly supports the idea that nurse staffing is one key component of healthcare delivery that hospitals can address to both improve patient outcomes and reduce the likelihood of being penalized for excessive readmissions." ...
    VickyRN, merlee, Chisca, and 1 other like this.

  2. Enjoy this?

    Join thousands and get our weekly Nursing Insights newsletter with the hottest, discussions, articles, and toons.

  3. 15 Comments...

  4. 2
    Even nurses without unions have EBP-ALL nurses need to force the hand of the bottom line.
    elprup and herring_RN like this.
  5. 10
    Yet another study to try to answer a question that has an obvious answer. Better staffing ratios will improve every measurable data point.....

    its really kind of a duh????? thing......
    tokmom, imintrouble, That Guy, and 7 others like this.
  6. 2
    Thank you for sharing this important information.
    imintrouble and Kooky Korky like this.
  7. 2
    Hospitals don't want to hear this though.
    cardiacfreak and herring_RN like this.
  8. 5

    B E T T E R
    S T A F F I N G
    B E T T E R
    C A R E

    There has never been a doubt.
    Last edit by merlee on Oct 10, '13 : Reason: sp
  9. 2
    Quote from neonurse97
    Hospitals don't want to hear this though.
    THIS..they keep putting their fingers in their ears while eventually shooting themselves in the foot...
    tokmom and herring_RN like this.
  10. 1
    From the journal "No Shoot Sherlock"??
    herring_RN likes this.
  11. 1
    Quote from wooh
    From the journal "No Shoot Sherlock"??
    Hmmm....I saw it in the "Journal of Proven Bedside Nursing"...
    herring_RN likes this.
  12. 0
    Allow me to play devil's advocate here for a minute. Clearly people would receive the best care if every med surg patient had their own nurse. However, there is a decreasing benefit with each nurse you add (i.e. concept of decreasing marginal utility), and therefore the 2nd nurse you add doesn't give you as much bang for your buck as the 1st (and the 2nd doesn't give you as much as the 3rd). If I had one patient on my floor, even if I did every little thing from education to ambulation, my day would be boring and empty.

    Hospitals have to balance then benefit of extra nurses against the paycheck they have to pay them. Yes, you save money in terms of errors and accidents that nurses help avoid. However, there is a point where adding nurse #25 (for example) doesn't "pay for itself." In my experience, staff nurses always moan and groan about inadequate staffing regardless of the reality. We have 5 med surg patients to a nurse and I can think of several hospitals nearby where 6 or 7 is the norm.

    I don't know what that perfect ratio is for acuity level "X" or "Y." My overall point is I bet the benefits of adding a nurse at...say Grady Memorial in far for pronounced than adding one at Baylor (Heathcare Finance News 2009 best hospitals for nurses).

Nursing Jobs in every specialty and state. Visit today and Create Job Alerts, Manage Your Resume, and Apply for Jobs.