Hospital Ratings to Consider Magnet Status

    • August 29, 2011

The Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and AARP, registered a significant victory in late July with the announcement that a leading hospital rating organization will add an important measure of nursing excellence to its ratings criteria.

The announcement came from the Leapfrog Group, a voluntary program aimed at mobilizing employer purchasing power to achieve “big leaps” in health care safety, quality and customer value. Leapfrog surveys hospitals to gather data for its annual ratings, and will in future surveys seek data on whether hospitals have achieved Magnet status. The designation recognizes a combination of quality patient care, nursing excellence and innovations in the practice of nursing. The Magnet Recognition Program, developed by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, is intended to give consumers a benchmark for gauging the quality of care at hospitals in their communities.

Leapfrog described its inclusion of Magnet status in its ratings as a reflection of its commitment to implementing the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine’s landmark Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health report.

Leapfrog CEO Leah Binder, M.A., M.G.A., made the announcement at AARP’s Champion Nursing Council and Coalition meeting in Washington, D.C. “With this addition to our annual survey, Leapfrog is recognizing the vital role nurses play in patient safety and their strong commitment to transparency,” she said. “As I visit hospitals across the country, I am constantly finding that the highest performing hospitals, many of Leapfrog’s Top Hospitals, have earned the prestigious recognition of Magnet, and nurses are the most vocal supporters of making patient safety and quality information transparent. Our employer members value this designation, and its implications for safety, and believe hospitals deserve recognition when they achieve it.”

Susan C. Reinhard, R.N., Ph.D., F.A.A.N., chief strategist for the Center to Champion Nursing in America, an initiative of AARP, the AARP Foundation and RWJF, said she was “delighted” by the news. In a post on the RWJF Human Capital blog welcoming the announcement, she wrote, “As a nurse, health policy expert and as a consumer advocate, I have experienced the many ways that nurses improve patient safety and provide high quality care. One significant way is by ensuring that they are able to put into practice – and continue to build on – the qualities that make them stellar leaders at the bedside and beyond…. Leapfrog’s tremendous commitment represents a valuable business perspective on the importance of strong nursing leaders, with the ever-present ultimate goal of improved patient safety.” Reinhard is also senior vice president and director of the AARP Public Policy Institute.

Magnet Recognition Program director Craig Luzinski, M.S.N., R.N., N.E.A.-B.C., F.A.C.H.E., welcomed the news, as well. “We are thrilled that The Leapfrog Group has decided to recognize the achievement of the Magnet credential in this meaningful way,” he said. “Adding Magnet Recognition to the list of factors that exemplify safe and high quality care in the Leapfrog survey is an important way for these hospitals to be acknowledged for their nursing excellence.”

Magnet status is considered very difficult to attain. Only 386 hospitals in the United States have achieved the designation, and just five in other nations.

RWJF and AARP launched The Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action in November 2010 to implement recommendations from the IOM’s Future of Nursing report. Taken together, the recommendations are a blueprint for change that builds upon nurse-based approaches to improving quality and transforming the way Americans receive health care.