Having more BSNs can improve outcomes, reduce costs, study finds

When hospitals increase the proportion of nurses with bachelor's degrees and have those nurses care directly for patients, it leads to improved outcomes and lower costs, according to a study in Medical Care.

When patients receive 80 percent or more of their care from BSN-level nurses, they had 18.7 percent lower odds of readmission and also shorter lengths of stay, the study found. Additionally, a 10 percent increase in the proportion of BSN nurses was associated with a 10 percent reduction in the odds of mortality.

Further, although paying higher-educated nurses may cost more in salary, the savings achieved by having more BSNs outweighs those costs, according to the study. Researchers estimated that increasing the proportion of BSNs to at least 80 percent would reduce readmissions by 248 days, thus reducing costs by more than $5 million, while the costs associated with higher salaries was estimated at merely $1.8 million.

The study was based on analysis of electronic data from 8,526 patients from one academic medical center. One-fifth of the patients received 80 percent or more of their care from BSN-level nurses.

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