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Keywords:

  • Nursing;
  • quality of care/patient safety (measurement);
  • hospitals;
  • health care organizations and systems;
  • surgery;
  • risk adjustment for clinical outcomes

Objective. To examine the effect of nursing practice environments on outcomes of hospitalized cancer patients undergoing surgery.

Data Sources. Secondary analysis of cancer registry, inpatient claims, administrative and nurse survey data collected in Pennsylvania for 1998–1999.

Study Design. Nurse staffing (patient to nurse ratio), educational preparation (proportion of nurses holding at least a bachelor's degree), and the practice environment (Practice Environment Scale of the Nursing Work Index) were calculated from a survey of nurses and aggregated to the hospital level. Logistic regression models predicted the odds of 30-day mortality, complications, and failure to rescue (death following a complication).

Principal Findings. Unadjusted death, complication, and failure to rescue rates were 3.4, 35.7, and 9.3 percent, respectively. Nurse staffing and educational preparation of registered nurses were significantly associated with patient outcomes. After adjusting for patient and hospital characteristics, patients in hospitals with poor nurse practice environments had significantly increased odds of death (odds ratio, 1.37; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.07–1.76) and of failure to rescue (odds ratio, 1.48; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.07–2.03). Receipt of care in National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers significantly decreased the odds of death, which can be explained partly by better nurse practice environments.

Conclusions. This study is one of the first to examine the predictive validity of the National Quality Forum's endorsed measure of the nurse practice environment. Improvements in the quality of nurse practice environments could reduce adverse outcomes for hospitalized surgical oncology patients.