Matthew D. McHugh, PhD, JD, MPH, RN, CRNP, FAAN
Matthew D. McHugh’s work focuses on the contribution of nurses to improving patient outcomes and the U.S. health care system.
“Nursing is central to good patient outcomes and achieving our most important health policy goals.”
- JD, Northeastern University School of Law, 2006
- PhD, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, 2004
- MPH, Harvard School of Public Health, 2003
- MSN, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, 1998
- BSN, Gwynedd-Mercy University , 1996
- ASN, Gwynedd-Mercy University , 1995
The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, in collaboration with Penn Nursing, is one of five sites nationally participating in the Graduate Nurse Education Demonstration Program, funded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services. Dr. McHugh is co-investigator of the program at Penn, which is training advanced practice nurses at Penn Nursing and eight other nursing schools in the region, in partnership with more than 20 clinical organizations.
Dr. McHugh teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in health policy. Through the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research, he mentors undergraduate and graduate students.
Reducing hospital readmissions is a major Medicare reform policy initiative under the Affordable Care Act. Through research with Penn Nursing’s Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research, Dr. McHugh and colleagues focused on an area that had been largely ignored in efforts to lower re-admissions: the variation in the organization of nursing across hospitals. In a study of 30-day readmissions among Medicare patients undergoing general, orthopedic, and vascular surgery, the Penn researchers found that hospitals with better nurse staffing and a better work environment had significantly fewer 30-day readmissions. Hospital administrators can use this finding to develop system-level interventions to reduce readmissions.
The Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research brings together faculty, students, and pre- and post-doctoral fellows from nursing, sociology, demography, medicine, management, economics, and other disciplines. Center researchers also collaborate with researchers from around the world.
Dr. McHugh’s work has also informed national quality measures on readmissions and hospital safety, and legislation in Pennsylvania on nurse staffing.
Impacting Local and National Policy
As a member of a National Quality Forum committee, Dr. McHugh helped identify reliable and valid measures for readmission penalty and incentive programs. Working with the Leapfrog Group, Dr. McHugh evaluated measures used in hospital safety scores, which help consumers evaluate the quality of care. Research by Dr. McHugh and colleagues at the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research informed legislation proposed in Pennsylvania in 2016 on safe nurse staffing levels.
With funding from the National Institute of Nursing Research, Dr. McHugh is studying the impact of nursing on in-hospital cardiac arrest patient outcomes. Using clinical registry data, he is exploring whether improvements in nurse work environments reduce in-hospital cardiac arrests, improve survival, and mitigate adverse consequences for survivors.
Opportunities to Learn and Collaborate at Penn Nursing
As faculty director of Penn’s Coordinated Dual-Degree Program in Nursing and Health Care Administration Management, Dr. McHugh is helping to develop the nurses of the future. This joint program of the Wharton School and Penn Nursing prepares students to lead in diverse healthcare settings.
Selected Career Highlights
- Fellow, American Academy of Nursing
- Co-director, Advanced Training in Nursing Outcomes Research, National Institute of Nursing Research
- President’s Distinguished Alumni Award, Gwynedd-Mercy University
- Top 10 Most Read Papers in 2013, Health Affairs
- Top 5 Most Influential Research Articles for 2011, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
McHugh, M. D., Kelly, L. A., Smith, H. L., Wu, E. S., Vanak, J., & Aiken, L. H. (in press). Lower mortality in magnetic hospitals. Medical Care, 51(5): 382-388. Invited Editorial on this paper: Needleman, J. (2013). Assessing low mortality in Magnet hospitals. Medical Care, 51(5), 379-381. Reprinted in Special Supplement, Demonstrating The Value of Magnet in JONA
43(10):S4-S10, October 2013.
McHugh MD, Aiken LH, Eckenhoff ME, Burns LR (2016). Achieving Kaiser Permanente quality. Health Care Management Review, 41(3), 178-88.1 doi: 0.1097/HMR.0000000000000070
Stimpfel, A.W., Sloane, D.M., McHugh, M.D., & Aiken, L.H (2016). Hospitals known for nursing excellence associated with better hospital experiences for patients. Health Services Research, 51, 1120-1134.10.1111/1475-6773.12357
Chau, J…. McHugh, M. D., et al. (2016). A longitudinal examination of the association between nurse staffing levels, the practice environment and nurse-sensitive patient outcomes in hospitals. BMC Health Services Research, 15, 538.
Silber, J. H., Rosenbaum, P. R., McHugh, M. D., Ludwig, J. M., Smith, H. L., Niknam, B. A., … Aiken, L. H. (2016). Comparing the value of better nursing work environments across different levels of patient risk. JAMA Surgery, 151(6), 527-36.10.1001/jamasurg.2015.4908
McHugh, M.D., Rochman, M.F., Sloane, D.M., Berg, R.A., Mancini, M.E., Nadkarni, V.M., Merchant, R. M., & Aiken, L.H. for the American Heart Associations Get With The Guidelines-Resuscitation Investigators (2016). Better nurse staffing and nurse work environments associated with increased survival of in-hospital cardiac arrest patients.. Medical Care, 54, 74-80.
Ma, C., McHugh, M. D., Aiken, L.H. (2015). Organization of hospital nursing and 30-day readmissions in Medicare patients undergoing surgery. Medical Care, 53, 65-70.
Nantsupawat, A., Nantsupawat, R., Kulnaviktikul, W., McHugh, MD (2015). Relationship between nurse staffing levels and nurse outcomes in community hospitals, Thailand.. Nursing and Health Sciences, 17, 112-118.
Kutney-Lee, A., Melendez-Torres, G.J, McHugh, M.D., & Mann Wall, B. (2014). Distinct enough? A national examination of Catholic hospital affiliation and patient perceptions of care. Health Care Management Review, 39, 134-144.
Kelly, D., McHugh, M. D., Sloane, D. M. & Aiken, L. H (2014). Impact of critical care nursing on 30-day mortality of mechanically ventilated older adults. Critical Care Medicine. American Journal of Nursing, 42, 1089-1095.