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The premier resource for hospital professionals from Relias Media, the trusted source for healthcare information and continuing education.

Nurses know quality – so why aren’t more hospitals getting them involved?

Sometimes academic studies are criticized for simply confirming what some people consider “common sense” – but sense isn’t really that common, and I for one appreciate solid evidence. So I was heartened to come across a new study from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing that confirms nurses are well worth listening to when it comes to hospital quality.

The study, published in Research in Nursing and Health, found that nurses’ reports regarding the quality of patient care in their unit tracked closely with the results of several outcomes measures. According to a news release from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, “The researchers found that nurses’ reports that the quality of care was excellent did correspond with higher levels of patient satisfaction, better scores for processes of care…and better results for patients in the hospital with regard to mortality and failure to rescue.”

OK – so it’s not shocking that nurses know what’s really going on in their units. Nor is it surprising that Magnet hospitals and other organizations “known to have good work environments that support professional nursing practice” tended to rate higher in terms of their quality of care, according to the release.

But if all that’s true, why aren’t more hospitals giving nurses the tools and education they need to be active participants in implementing evidence-based care? Because another new study, this one from the Journal of Nursing Administration, strongly suggests that they’re not.

According to the JONA study, “Although nurses across the United States believe that EBP [evidence-based practice] results in the best patient outcomes and have a desire to gain more knowledge and skills in EBP, barriers continue to exist in healthcare systems that prevent consistent implementation of evidence-based care.”

Which hospitals have the fewest barriers? You probably guessed – Magnet hospitals. According to the JONA study, nurses in Magnet-designated organizations reported higher levels of “(a) more consistent implementation of EBP by their healthcare systems, (b) availability of EBP experts, (c) organizational cultures supporting EBP, (d) routine educational offerings in EBP, and (e) routine recognition of EBP efforts.”

So maybe it’s time for more facilities out there to pay closer attention to what nurses have to say about quality of care – and to make a real commitment to allowing nurses to actively participate in improving it.

We’ll have a lot more to say about this, by the way, in an upcoming issue of Hospital Peer Review newsletter.