When hospital nurses have bachelor of science degrees, patients have shorter stays, fewer readmissions, and lower odds of dying, report researchers.
The new study—which only looked at patients at one hospital—shows care by BSN-educated nurses reduces the odds of patient mortality by roughly 11 percent. Hospital stays shorten by about 2 percent and the odds of readmission drop by nearly 19 percent.
“The real contribution of this study is that when we looked at patients in the same hospital, who were hospitalized on the same unit with the same diagnosis, patients who received more than 80 percent of nursing care from BSN-educated nurses tended to do better—despite often being sicker at the time of admission,” says Olga Yakusheva, associate professor of nursing at University of Michigan.
For the study, published in the journal Medical Care, researchers conducted an economic evaluation of a 2010 Institute of Medicine recommendation that called for increasing the proportion of BSN-educated nurses to 80 percent by 2020.
The current national average is 55 percent, and the average of BSN-educated nurses at the hospital in the study was roughly 57 percent.
The study estimates that fewer readmissions and shorter stays could save roughly $5.6 million annually—depending on how many readmissions are reimbursed—more than enough money to recoup the upfront hiring or training costs of adding BSNs, Yakusheva says.
“This makes you think, how can we give all of our patients an equal opportunity to receive the high-quality care they deserve? The answer is, or at least seems to be, investing in nurse education. Our study shows that these investments can also have real cost-saving effects in the long term.”
The study included more than 8,500 adult medical-surgical patients matched with nearly 1,500 direct-care nurses in an academic medical center over seven months.
The improved patient outcomes depend on a combined approach of increasing the hospital-level BSN proportion to 80 percent and adjusting staffing to ensure that all patients receive a higher proportion of BSN care.
Yakusheva conducted the research while at Marquette University. She worked with coauthors Richard Lindrooth of the University of Colorado and Marquette’s Marianne Weiss.
Source: University of Michigan