The better staffed a hospital is with nurses, the lower its odds of being slapped with readmission penalties. And hospitals with higher nurse staffing had 25% lower odds of being penalized compared with similar hospitals with lower staffing finds a study published in the October issue of Health Affairs.
Researchers matched hospitals that were similar in all respects except nurse staffing, lead author Matthew D. McHugh, PhD, JD, MPH, RN, FAAN, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research.
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"They were twins in all respects, except one was really well staffed and one wasn't," says McHugh, who's also a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar.
In addition to being less likely to be penalized for readmissions in general, the study found that hospitals with higher nurse staffing levels also have 41% lower odds of receiving the maximum penalty for readmissions.
In addition, researchers estimate that each additional nurse-hour per patient day is associated with 10% lower odds of receiving penalties under The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program.