According to recent research, hospitals that have won the "Magnet Hospital" designation for high nursing standards were more likely to adopt safe patient care practices. A magnet hospital is one that has earned Magnet Recognition Status from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (or ANCC) . As a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer, I agree hospitals that have earned this recognition tend to provide safer patient care than those that have not but this should not be the sole basis upon which to choose a hospital.
There are currently 383 Magnet hospitals across the country. These hospitals tend to concentrate on certain characteristics like nursing autonomy, evidence-based care, and job satisfaction (among other variables). As reported in the Journal of Nursing Administration, magnet hospitals had significantly higher composite safe practice scores than non-magnet facilities. The ANCC states on its website that "Magnet Recognition Program recognizes healthcare organizations for quality patient care, nursing excellence and innovations in professional nursing practice." ANCC also claims patients rely on whether a hospital has been awarded Magnet status in choosing a hospital.
To be fair, Magnet hospitals have certain advantages that may explain, in part, their higher scores. For example, Magnet hospitals are more likely to have larger bed size, be nonprofit, and have reduced percentage of Medicare and Medicaid patients. In addition, they tend to have more advanced technology, have a greater percentage of RNs to LPNs and nursing assistants, and a higher level of nurse intensity (based on nursing hours per patient day). These and other characteristics may allow Magnet hospitals to be better able to adopt the safe practices outlined by the ANCC.
From experience as both a patient and medical malpractice lawyer, I can attest there are good and bad nurses in every hospital. Indeed, I have prosecuted cases against Chicago hospitals with magnet status. Some of these cases involved allegations of negligence by the nursing staff. Yet, I continue to recommend many of them to friends and family depending upon the medical issue involved. Likewise, there are some non-Magnet Chicago area hospitals that I would also recommend for specific medical conditions over their Magnet counterparts.
Whether a hospital has Magnet status or not is an important factor but it should not be the sole factor in choosing one hospital over another. If a patient feels more comfortable about a surgeon at a non-magnet hospital, they should not automatically reject surgeon simply because they do not operate at a Magnet hospital. That said, choosing a Magnet hospital status should not be ignored either. After all, much of patient care is determined by the quality of the nursing staff.
MedPage Today Website, Safest Hospitals Have Higher Nursing Standards, October 1, 2011.
American Nursing Credentialing Center Website, ANCC Magnet Recognition Program, October 1, 2011