Patients discharged to a skilled nursing facility after trauma had lower odds of mortality when the facility had fewer beds per nurse, new research shows.

In addition, those who went into skilled nursing generally had worse outcomes than those who went home, according to University of Washington researchers. 

The goal of their retrospective study was to determine whether nurse staffing and patient density in nursing homes were associated with outcomes after a patient was hospitalized for trauma or surgery.

More than 389,000 patients who went to 3,700 Medicare-certified SNFs after trauma or major surgery between 2007 and 2009 were analyzed. 

Researchers found facilities with fewer beds per nurse resulted in lower rates of mortality for those with trauma or who had surgery, along with lower rates of readmission. 

Even when adjusting for patient characteristics, the authors concluded that there are “modifiable” SNF factors that can be targets for better outcomes.

“Staffing standardization and SNF specialization may reduce variation of quality in post-acute care,” they wrote.