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Happy Nurses Mean Better Patient Care, Fewer Readmissions

Happy nurses = 10 % fewer readmissions.

That’s from a study in the January 2013 issue of Medical Care.

And it’s all based on work environment, according to researchers from the University of Pennsylvania.

The Penn researchers looked at data from more than 200,000 nurses and 412 hospitals in California, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. They found improvements in how hospitals organize and deliver nursing services could lead to lower overall readmissions.

The research considered 30-Day readmissions among Medicare patients with Heart Failure, Acute Myocardial Infarction, and Pneumonia.

According to the study, a good nursing environment is one which reinforces autonomy, offers sufficient resources, establishes support and leadership, and gives nurses a greater role in decisions.

The study’s lead author, Matthew D. McHugh, a health policy expert at Penn Nursing, says it adds to the growing body of evidence linking nurses’ practice environment and staffing levels to quality of care and patient outcomes. In other words, happy nurses mean better patient care and fewer readmissions!

And that matters because preventable hospital readmissions cost Medicare more than $15 billion a year. Medicare is now penalizing hospitals with excessive rates of readmissions.

At TeleTracking, we have always believed nurses must be treated as key players in the care delivery process. That’s why we involve them from the beginning in process change and technology implementation. They are critical to process redesign because they know the existing process and its shortcomings better than anyone. They are involved in the decision making process because that is the only way they can have ownership in the end result.

It only stands to reason that a happier nurse is a better nurse, but now coming to light is that when hospitals support nurses, they are more likely to catch medication mistakes.

A study funded by the philanthropic Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that when nurses take steps to intervene in the medication process, they are more likely to catch would-be errors before they reach the patient.

The study defines “supportive” hospitals as settings where nurses work with doctors as a team, participate in decisions for their unit and for the hospital, and have continuing education opportunities.

Another way to provide support nurses is to automate repetitive, unnecessary, or time consuming tasks that keep them away from the bedside, which is one of the things TeleTracking software does.

Tell us if you think a majority of hospitals are now moving in the direction of providing more supportive work environments for their nurses and whether studies like these make a difference.

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