New research shows that hospitals with higher nursing levels have fewer readmissions and lower penalties for excessive readmission rates.  A new study, which appeared in the October issue of Health Affairs, found that hospitals with higher staffing levels had a 25 percent lower chance of being penalized for readmission rates when compared to hospitals with lower staffing levels.

Efforts that reduce readmissions are fundamentally nursing functions – discharge planning, complication observation and intervention, care coordination and patient education.  The study found that lower staffing rates likely impede the nursing staff’s ability to carry out these functions and leads to a higher likelihood of readmission penalties.

The study also took into account other factors that may affect readmission rates.  When hospitals were matched based on patient population characteristics and other factors, hospitals with higher nursing levels were still better off than lower-staffed hospitals.

Our Insight.  Your Advantage.  If you’re worried about readmission penalties, take a look at your nurse staffing levels.   Additional education and training on factors that impact readmission rates are important, but keep in mind that if your nurses do not have time to follow through on all the necessary steps, your readmission rates may not improve.  While it may be cheaper to run a lean nursing staff, it may end up costing you more in the long run.