Growing scrutiny of readmissions has placed hospitals at the center of readmission prevention. Little is known, however, about hospital nursing—a critical organizational component of hospital service system—in relation to readmissions.Objectives:
To determine the relationships between hospital nursing factors—nurse work environment, nurse staffing, and nurse education—and 30-day readmissions among Medicare patients undergoing general, orthopedic, and vascular surgery.Method and Design:
We linked Medicare patient discharge data, multistate nurse survey data, and American Hospital Association Annual Survey data. Our sample included 220,914 Medicare surgical patients and 25,082 nurses from 528 hospitals in 4 states (California, Florida, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania). Risk-adjusted robust logistic regressions were used for analyses.Results:
The average 30-day readmission rate was 10% in our sample (general surgery: 11%; orthopedic surgery: 8%; vascular surgery: 12%). Readmission rates varied widely across surgical procedures and could be as high as 26% (upper limb and toe amputation for circulatory system disorders). Each additional patient per nurse increased the odds of readmission by 3% (OR=1.03; 95% CI, 1.00–1.05). Patients cared in hospitals with better nurse work environments had lower odds of readmission (OR=0.97; 95% CI, 0.95–0.99). Administrative support to nursing practice (OR=0.96; 95% CI, 0.94–0.99) and nurse-physician relations (OR=0.97; 95% CI, 0.95–0.99) were 2 main attributes of the work environment that were associated with readmissions.Conclusions:
Better nurse staffing and work environment were significantly associated with 30-day readmission, and can be considered as system-level interventions to reduce readmissions and associated financial penalties.