News Briefs

Specialized APN care improves outcomes

Older heart failure patients whose care is coordinated by specially trained advanced practice nurses (APNs) during and after hospitalization experience a better quality of life and fewer hospital readmissions, according to a study in the May issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The study found that, though the cost of care by such nurses — who have a master’s degree — was double that of traditional levels of care, improved outcomes more than offset that cost increase, ultimately saving Medicare $4,845 per patient or 38% over one year.

Participating in the study were 239 patients at six Philadelphia hospitals; all were age 65 or older and diagnosed with heart failure. They received highly individualized care from APNs specially trained in heart failure management. The APNs coordinated care provided by physicians, nurses, and other caregivers; made daily hospital visits and at least eight home visits in the three months following discharge; and were available by telephone seven days a week.

For more on the study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Nursing Research, visit www.nih.gov/news/pr/may2004/ninr-12.htm.

Hospital participation in Quality Initiative nears 90%

Nearly 90% of eligible U.S. hospitals are now taking part in the Quality Initiative, which opened to enrollment just one year ago, according to the American Hospital Association (AHA). Roughly 3,500 hospitals have agreed to participate by publicly sharing data on their care for heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia — a more than 25% jump since February.

"From the start, participation in this initiative has grown steadily, demonstrating hospitals’ leadership and commitment to openness and accountability, and the desire to see a unified, standardized approach to data collection," said AHA president Dick Davidson.

Nearly 2,000 participating hospitals already are sharing their data publicly through a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services web site (www.cms.gov/quality/hospital). For more information, including a complete list of partners, click on "The Quality Initiative" logo at www.aha.org.