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Keywords:

  • Certification;
  • nursing;
  • nursing education;
  • experience;
  • outcomes;
  • outcome assessment

Abstract

Purpose: To determine if hospital proportion of staff nurses with specialty certification is associated with risk-adjusted inpatient 30-day mortality and failure to rescue (deaths in surgical inpatients following a major complication).

Design: Secondary analysis of risk-adjusted adult general, orthopedic, and vascular surgical inpatients discharged during 2005–2006 (n= 1,283,241) from 652 nonfederal hospitals controlling for state, hospital, patient, and nursing characteristics by linking outcomes, administrative, and nurse survey data (n= 28,598).

Method: Nurse data, categorized by education and certification status, were aggregated to the hospital level. Logistic regression models were used to estimate effects of specialty certification and other nursing characteristics on mortality and failure to rescue.

Findings: Hospital proportion of baccalaureate and certified baccalaureate staff nurses were associated with mortality and failure to rescue; no effect of specialization was seen in the absence of baccalaureate education. A 10% increase in hospital proportion of baccalaureate and certified baccalaureate staff nurses, respectively, decreased the odds of adjusted inpatient 30-day mortality by 6% and 2%; results for failure to rescue were identical.

Conclusions: Nurse specialty certification is associated with better patient outcomes; effect on mortality and failure to rescue in general surgery patients is contingent upon baccalaureate education.

Clinical Relevance: Investment in a baccalaureate-educated workforce and specialty certification has the potential to improve the quality of care.