The findings have been posted online by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Very low birth weight infants are among the highest risk pediatric patients in hospitals. They account for only 1.5 percent of births but over half of infant deaths. One in four dies in the first year of life and 87 percent of those deaths occur within the first month.
The research team, which was led by Jeannette A. Rogowski, PhD, University Professor in Health Economics at UMDNJ-SPH, and Eileen T. Lake, PhD, RN, FAAN, associate director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania, studied the outcomes of 72,235 VLBW infants weighing between 501 and 1500 grams born in hospitals and placed in neonatal intensive care units between January 1, 2007, and December 31, 2008. They measured the infants’ rates for seven-day, 28-day and hospital-stay mortality; severe intraventricular hemorrhage; and nosocomial (blood or cerebrospinal fluid) infection. Despite having more risk factors than very low birth weight infants in the other hospitals, babies in the RNE hospitals had lower rates of death, hemorrhage and infection.
“Health policy makers in this country are currently seeking ways to identify high quality medical providers,” says Dr. Rogowski. “The data suggest that for babies born preterm, Magnet accreditation is one important marker for high quality care. These vulnerable infants have better chances of survival early in life and of avoiding potentially life-altering complications if they are born in hospitals that are recognized for nursing excellence.”
Very low birth weight infants require an intense level of nursing care and nurses caring for these babies must make complex assessments, implement highly intensive therapies and make adjustments in care based on the patient’s response. The study suggests that the focus on nursing excellence in Magnet Hospitals improves the care VLBW infants receive and their outcomes.
ANCC’s Magnet Recognition Program recognizes health care organizations for quality care, nursing excellence and innovations in professional nursing practice. Organizations are evaluated for evidence that they have achieved five key elements: transformational leadership; structural empowerment; exemplary professional practice; new knowledge, innovations and improvements; and empirical outcomes. It generally takes two years for a health care organization to achieve Magnet status and hospitals must undergo a redesignation process every four years and provide interim reports. Only seven percent of U.S. hospitals are Magnet hospitals.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative and the National Institute of Nursing Research provided funding that supported this research.
About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable and timely change. For 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation website.
About the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) is New Jersey’s only health sciences university with more than 6,000 students on five campuses attending the state’s three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and New Jersey’s only school of public health. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, which provides a continuum of healthcare services with multiple locations throughout the state.