Hospitals with better nurse work environments have safer pediatric care, study finds

Hospitals that have better work environments for nurses provider safer care for the youngest — and often most vulnerable — patients, a study published in the Journal of Patient Safety found.

The researchers, from Penn Nursing's Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research in Philadelphia, based the findings on data from 1,875 pediatric nurses in four states.

The researchers asked nurses whether they feel mistakes are held against them and found answers ranged from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree." They also asked how nurses would grade patient safety in their work setting.

To evaluate work environment, the researchers asked how well hospitals supported autonomous nursing practice and how effective their hospital's nurse manager is.

In hospitals with lower-ranked work environments, consistently higher numbers of nurses reported less safety, and the biggest factor was mistakes being held against them.

"In other words, in pediatrics, hospitals that have better work environments also have safer care," said study author Eileen Lake, PhD, MSN. "Having a punitive environment, or not feeling free to question decisions, are core ways to identify settings that don't support caregivers to work safely. "

Hospitals should ensure all managers know safety is directly connected to work environment, Dr. Lake said.

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