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Study: Nurses’ work environment is key

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A new report from Press Ganey says that  nurses’  overall work environment is more important for good patient outcomes and reduced readmission rates than staffing levels per se.

Not unexpectedly,  the study found  that hospitals with higher nurse staffing and  other elements of a more congenial work environment (supportive managements, adequate break times, etc.) tended to have  lower job dissatisfaction, burnout and intention-to-leave-employment rates. Earlier research has indicated that these things cut  readmissions for heart failure, pneumonia and myocardial infarction.

But interestingly,  hospitals  with the least  pleasant work environments had patient fall rates virtually the same as those with below-average and above-average staffing scores. So staffing alone doesn’t improve all  outcomes if the hospital doesn’t also implement other elements of an improved work environment besides staffing. Understaffing, of course, leads to excessive overtime hours for already tired  and stressed nurses.

Press Ganey’s report, “Nursing Special Report: The Influence of Nurse Work Environment on Patient, Payment and Nurse Outcomes in Acute Care Settings”  looked at the work environment on key performance measures.

The company said: “Based on an integrated analysis of data across multiple performance domains, findings provide actionable insights to help health system leaders:

  • “Understand the relationship between nurse work environment, staffing and key performance measures.
  • “Identify the impact of nurse work environment on patient safety, quality, experience and value measures.
  • “Prioritize improvement opportunities to optimize efficiency and reduce patient suffering.”

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