(HealthDay News) — Hospitals with higher nurse staffing have lower odds of Medicare readmissions penalties than hospitals with lower staffing, according to a study published in the October issue of Health Affairs.

Matthew D. McHugh, R.N., Ph.D., from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues estimated the effect nurse staffing had on the likelihood a hospital would be penalized under the Affordable Care Act’s Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program.

The researchers found that hospitals with higher nurse staffing had 25 percent lower odds of being penalized, compared to otherwise similar hospitals with lower staffing.

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“Investment in nursing is a potential system-level intervention to reduce readmissions that policy makers and hospital administrators should consider in the new regulatory environment as they examine the quality of care delivered to U.S. hospital patients,” the authors write.

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