Magnet hospitals have higher quality of care, study says

March 11, 2014, New York University

Magnet recognition is considered a leading source for measuring organizational success in nursing. Magnet hospitals show higher job satisfaction and lower odds of patient mortality than non-Magnet hospitals. However, only nine percent of American hospitals are recognized as Magnet. Currently, there is little research into the causes of the differences between Magnet and non-Magnet hospitals, research that could create an infrastructure for positive change in nurse and patient outcomes.

Now research from New York University College of Nursing (NYUCN) and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in an article published in the Journal of Nursing Administration, provide insight on the factors contributing to the differences between Magnet and Non-Magnet hospitals as well as an analysis of the links between Magnet Recognition and better nurse-reported quality of care.

"Many of the recent efforts to improve quality and enhance transparency in healthcare have been dominated by physician services and medical outcomes," explains Amy Witkoski Stimpfel, PhD, RN, assistant professor at NYUCN. "Our study shows that the overall quality of patient care can be optimized when nurses work in a positive environment, with adequate resources and support at the organizational level."

The study, "Understanding the Role of the Professional Practice Environment on Quality of Care in Magnet and Non-Magnet Hospitals," focused on cross-sectional data, including the American Hospital Association's annual survey, as well as an analysis of 56 Magnet and 495 non-Magnet hospitals. Carefully balancing variables in order to remove the maximum bias, Dr. Witkoski Stimpfel's team found a clear positive correlation between positive nurses work environments and nurse-reported quality of care. Even after taking into consideration characteristic differences between Magnet and Non-Magnet hospitals, Magnet hospitals were still positively correlated with higher reports of excellent quality of care.

"Having visible and accessible chief nurses, encouraging and including nurses in decision making in their unit and throughout the organization, supporting nursing practice and engaging in interdisciplinary , are but a few examples of readily modifiable features of a hospital," Dr. Witkoski Stimpfel. "Because all organizations, Magnet and otherwise, have the potential to enrich their practice environment, every organization stands to benefit from improving the organization of nursing care."

"Our findings suggest that Magnet hospitals produce better quality of care through their superior practice environments," states Dr. Witkoski Stimpfel. "Hospitals that invest in improving the nursing work environment have the potential to benefit from increased of care for their patients and families."

Dr. Witkoski Stimpfel is continuing to research the outcomes associated with Magnet hospitals. Her current project is focusing on assessing the relationship between Magnet recognition and patient satisfaction in a national sample of hospitals.

Explore further: Fewer patient deaths after surgery in hospitals known for good nursing care

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