Those are big numbers, but to extrapolate the financial and quality impacts of adding to nurse staffing for the roughly 5,000 hospitals around the country is impossible. Still, McHugh and his colleagues came close.
The research team was innovative in its approach. It attempted to eliminate almost any other variable in its calculations by "twinning" similar hospitals among the 2,826 hospitals studied based on nurse staffing ratios and data on readmissions penalties. In other words, researchers compared hospitals that were alike in every possible way other than nurse staffing ratios.
Here's what they found:
McHugh says he and his fellow researchers were trying to overcome methodological, as well as political issues that have clouded nurse staffing studies in the past.