Organization of hospital nursing and 30-Day readmissions in Medicare patients undergoing surgery

Chenjuan Ma, Matthew D. McHugh, Linda H. Aiken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Growing scrutiny of readmissions has placed hospitals at the center of readmission prevention. Little is known, however, about hospital nursing-a critical organizational component of hospital service system-in relation to readmissions. Objectives: To determine the relationships between hospital nursing factors-nurse work environment, nurse staffing, and nurse education-and 30-day readmissions among Medicare patients undergoing general, orthopedic, and vascular surgery. Method and Design: We linked Medicare patient discharge data, multistate nurse survey data, and American Hospital Association Annual Survey data. Our sample included 220,914 Medicare surgical patients and 25,082 nurses from 528 hospitals in 4 states (California, Florida, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania). Risk-Adjusted robust logistic regressions were used for analyses. Results: The average 30-day readmission rate was 10% in our sample (general surgery: 11%; orthopedic surgery: 8%; vascular surgery: 12%). Readmission rates varied widely across surgical procedures and could be as high as 26% (upper limb and toe amputation for circulatory system disorders). Each additional patient per nurse increased the odds of readmission by 3% (OR = 1.03; 95% CI, 1.00-1.05). Patients cared in hospitals with better nurse work environments had lower odds of readmission (OR = 0.97; 95% CI, 0.95-0.99). Administrative support to nursing practice (OR = 0.96; 95% CI, 0.94-0.99) and nurse-physician relations (OR = 0.97; 95% CI, 0.95-0.99) were 2 main attributes of the work environment that were associated with readmissions. Conclusions: Better nurse staffing and work environment were significantly associated with 30-day readmission, and can be considered as system-level interventions to reduce readmissions and associated financial penalties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-70
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 20 2015


  • Nurse Staffing
  • Nursing
  • Quality Of Care
  • Readmission
  • Work Environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Organization of hospital nursing and 30-Day readmissions in Medicare patients undergoing surgery'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this