Acuity-adjusted Staffing, Nurse Practice Environments and NICU Outcomes

An INQRI-funded effort spearheaded by a team at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, led by Eileen Lake and Jeannette Rogowski, has demonstrated the importance of nurse staffing and the professional practice environment in preventing infection among tiny babies in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). Care for these babies is typically among the most expensive care provided in a hospital, costing anywhere from $50,000 to $70,000 for each patient. This is the first national study to examine the link between nursing and outcomes for very low birth weight infants in NICUs. The study examined care in more than 100 NICUs around the country to see how staffing and practice environment influence rates of death, brain hemorrhage, lung development and infection. The findings show that babies in units where nurses have less support and limited professional practice are at higher risk of developing infections. Higher levels of NICU experience are associated with better infant outcomes. This leads to fewer cases of complications such as bleeding in the brain, which is not only expensive to treat but can lead to long-term developmental problems that drive up health costs.

Grant Year: 
Recommendation Type: 
Scope of practice (R1)
Recommendation Type: 
Academic progression (R4)
Research Topic: 
Research Topic: 
Grantee Organization: