Longitudinal Association of Registered Nurse National Nursing Specialty Certification and Patient Falls in Acute Care Hospitals

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BackgroundResearchers have studied inpatient falls in relation to aspects of nurse staffing, focusing primarily on staffing levels and proportion of nursing care hours provided by registered nurses (RNs). Less attention has been paid to other nursing characteristics, such as RN national nursing specialty certification.ObjectiveThe aim of the study was to examine the relationship over time between changes in RN national nursing specialty certification rates and changes in total patient fall rates at the patient care unit level.MethodsWe used longitudinal data with standardized variable definitions across sites from the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators. The sample consisted of 7,583 units in 903 hospitals. Relationships over time were examined using multilevel (units nested in hospitals) latent growth curve modeling.ResultsThe model indices indicated a good fit of the data to the model. At the unit level, there was a small statistically significant inverse relationship (r = −.08, p = .04) between RN national nursing specialty certification rates and total fall rates; increases in specialty certification rates over time tended to be associated with improvements in total fall rates over time.DiscussionOur findings may be supportive of promoting national nursing specialty certification as a means of improving patient safety. Future study recommendations are (a) modeling organizational leadership, culture, and climate as mediating variables between national specialty certification rates and patient outcomes and (b) investigating the association of patient safety and specific national nursing specialty certifications which test plans include patient safety, quality improvement, and diffusion of innovation methods in their certifying examinations.

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