Infants born significantly underweight are one of the most serious patient populations and require a great deal of individualized practitioner attention. Nurses provide front-line care in the majority of these cases, yet the effect of high-quality nursing on outcomes of very low birth weight (VLBW) infants is unknown.
This study measured the relationship between VLBW infants and hospital recognition for nursing excellence (RNE), versus hospitals not recognized as providing excellence in nursing (non RNE.) RNE hospitals showed significantly lower risk-adjusted rates for VLBW infants compared to non RNE hospitals, according to the following measures:
- Mortality rate seven days after birth
- Nosocomial infection rate
- Rate of severe intraventricular hemorrhages
VLBW infants born in RNE hospitals were 12 percent to 14 percent less likely to have undergone any of these three events, compared to VLBW infants in non RNE hospitals. Measures of mortality rate 28 days after birth and hospital stay mortality rates were not significantly different between the two hospital populations.
This study is the first to identify differences in patient outcomes this large between RNE hospitals and non RNE hospitals, and has significant implications for the importance of high-quality nursing care in critical patient populations.