Better retention of SNF licensed nurses relates to fewer rehospitalizations, study finds

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Skilled nursing facilities that have fewer rehospitalizations are likely to retain their licensed nurses at a higher rate than other SNFs, according to a study in the April issue of Gerontology.

Researchers at the Brown University Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research looked at 2002-2009 staffing reports of more than 680 Florida nursing homes. They compared the staffing data with 30-day rehospitalization rates, controlling for resident demographics, resident hospitalization preferences and ownership of the nursing homes.

SNFs that increased retention of licensed nurses 10% during the study period also saw 0.2% reductions in rehospitalizations, the researchers found. This equates to about two fewer hospitalizations per nursing home each year. The researchers characterized this is a “significant association.” Turnover of licensed nurses was not found to be significantly related to rehospitalization rates.

“These findings highlight the need for …  administrators and policy makers to focus on licensed nurse retention, and future research should focus on the measures of staff retention for understanding the staffing/quality relationship,” the researchers stated.

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission recently issued its first Congressional report that included data on 30-day rehospitalizations for skilled nursing facilities. The overall rate was 10%, but significant variation among facilities suggests they should face penalties for excessive rehospitalizations to bring down Medicare costs, the report said.