High-quality nursing significantly improves how well very low birth weight babies fare initially, suggests a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The authors found that VLBW babies -- weighing between 500 and 1500 grams -- born in hospitals recognized for nursing excellence by the American Nurses Credentialing Center had significantly lower rates of seven-day mortality, nosocomial infection and severe intraventricular hemorrhage. There was a 12% to 14% difference in the odds of these outcomes between RNE and non-RNE hospitals. No significant difference was found, though, in 28-day mortality or hospital-stay mortality. The findings are based on the evaluation of
72,235 VLBW babies born in 558 hospitals across the United States -- 20% of which were designated as RNE -- in 2007 and 2008. The authors conclude that increasing the number of RNE hospitals is one way to address the growing focus on the need to improve health care quality. Read the abstract.