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Specialist nursing qualifications linked to better surgical outcomes

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A US study has indicated that employing more qualified perioperative nurses contributes to improved surgical patient outcomes in hospitals.

The research into specialist nursing certification was conducted by the staff at the US National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators and the University of Kansas.

The study examined surgical patient outcomes in surgical intensive care units and surgical units, assessing common complications among patients being cared for by certified versus non-certified nurses.

“Specialty certification should be considered certainly within nursing… as a mechanism to ensure the proper protocols are being followed, providing patients with the best care available”

James Stobinski

Researchers studied four specialty certifications commonly held by US perioperative nurses  – certified ambulatory perianesthesia nurse (CAPA), certified postanesthesia nurse (CPAN), certified nurse operating room (CNOR) and certified RN first assistant (CRNFA).

The research showed higher rates of CPAN and CNOR/CRNFA certification in perioperative units were significantly associated with lower rates of central-line associated bloodstream infections in SICUs.

Specifically, the study indicated that a 10% higher rate of CNOR/CRNFA in perioperative units resulted in 16% less central-line associated bloodstream infection rates in SICUs, and 8% for CPAN certification.

Study author James Stobinski said: “While there has been much anecdotal speculation about the benefits of specialty nursing certification, our aim was to ascertain if a positive connection exists between certification and surgical patient outcomes.

“We found that higher rates of CPAN and CNOR/CRNFA contributed to improved surgical patient outcomes in SICUs when controlling for a variety of unit and hospital characteristics,” he said.

He added: “Specialty certification should be considered certainly within nursing, as well as within other healthcare sectors, as a mechanism to ensure the proper protocols are being followed, providing patients with the best care available and keeping associated costs as low as possible.”

The study was recently published in the Association of PeriOperative Registered Nurses Journal.

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