The Economic Value of Nursing

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The Economic Value of Nursing

Just as expected, nurses are worth plenty

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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Here is a belated Christmas present for you. On Dec. 24, 2008, the American Nurses Association (ANA) issued a press release announcing the results of a study first proposed in 2003 concerning the economic value of nursing. It turns out, just as you suspected, we’re worth plenty.

Published in the most recent issue of Medical Care, the study is the culmination of work done by the Lewin Group and supported by grants from over 85 nursing organizations. Using results taken from 28 different studies over several years, the findings indicate that RN staffing and good patient outcomes, including reduced mortality and shortened hospital stays, are directly related. In fact, adding 133,000 registered nurses would save 5,900 lives per year and decrease hospital days by 3.6 million.

That is not all. It would also save over six billion dollars in medical savings, resulting in a cost of $46,000 per additional RN. Combining the medical savings with the increased productivity estimates gave an economic value of $57,700 for each of the additional 133,000 nurses. Not bad.

The ANA cautions that several public policy issues arise. Current reimbursement methods make it impossible for individual facilities to capture the benefit of increasing RN staff. Under present policies, most of the benefit falls to the payers. There is also the additional and perennial problem of nurses getting acknowledgement of their value by those who hold the purse strings.

Click here for the full study or check in your hospital library.

Elizabeth Hanink RN, BSN, PHN, is a freelance writer with extensive hospital and community-based nursing experience.

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