Nurses’ Experience Counts

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Who would have thunk it?  It turns out that patients may get the best care when treated in hospital units staffed by highly experienced nurses.  

  • Researchers analyzed data from more than 900,000 patients admitted over four years to U.S. Veterans Administration hospitals and found that for each one-year increase in the average tenure of registered nurses in a hospital unit, patients spent 1.3 percent less time in the hospital.
  • They also found that patients’ length of stay increased when a team of RNs (registered nurses) had to do without an experienced member or had a new member assigned to them.
  • Reducing length of stay is the holy grail of hospital management because it means patients are getting higher quality, more cost-effective care. (I still hate when they throw around the term QUALITY, though – DF)
  • When the same team of nurses works together over the years, the nurses develop a rhythm and routines that lead to more efficient care.
  • Hospitals need to keep this in mind when making staffing decisions — disrupting the balance of a team can make quality go down and costs go up.
  • The findings show that hospital chief executives should consider policies to retain the most experienced nurses and create a work environment that encourages nurses to remain in their current units.

Just like doctors, it is extremely important to have good and experienced nurses.  Unfortunately, we have to speak the language that administrators know so they will understand and hopefully listen. That language is money and NOT care.  But maybe a study like this will help!

 

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