Help the Fight for Standardized Nurse to Patient Ratios
“Unless the things keeping the nurses awake at night are keeping the execs up too, nothing will change” – Jane Lawless
I have spent close to 10 years in the nursing field, first as an LPN, then as an RN. As a floor nurse, I worked primarily night shift but also spent about a year working day shift. In my years as a floor nurse, the nurse to patient ratios at my facility changed numerous times. I ultimately chose to leave the patient bedside in favor of other pursuits because I was tired – tired of being forced to give sub-par care to my patients, when I desired to do so much more. While there are a multitude of ways to improve our nursing care, imposing standardized nurse to patient ratios is an excellent way to start. Currently, California is the only state in the US with standardized ratios. That is ONE state out of FIFTY with evidenced-based, safe staffing ratios. According to National Nurses United, it took nurses in California 13 years to win the battle for the standardized ratios. The standardized ratios have now been in place since 2004; that is 12 years ago, and not one other state has followed suit. The Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act was enacted in 2015. This Act requires Medicare-participating hospitals to establish a committee to create staffing plans specific to the units in their facility. The staffing plans should consider the complexity of the patients, the availability of equipment, and availability of nurses, amongst other factors. It also requires public reporting of staffing information. This is a step in the right direction. According to New York State Nurses Association, the following statistics were noted:
Hospitals that imposed a 1:8 nurse-to-patient ratio experienced five more deaths per 1,000 patients than hospitals with a 1:4 nurse-to-patient ratio.
Odds of death increase by 7% for each additional patient that a nurse is assigned.
With statistics as startling as this, this “step in the right direction” needs to take a giant leap towards making ratios standardized. Since California imposed standardized nurse to patient ratios, there have been various studies performed, many on patient outcomes and nursing satisfaction. For example, I discussed the fact that I left the patient bedside due to being exhausted. In a 2010 study, in California, 29% of nurses experienced high burnout, as opposed to 34% of nurses in New Jersey and 36% of nurses in Pennsylvania. I was also dissatisfied with the level of care I was able to provide; 20% of nurses in California experienced job dissatisfaction, compared to 26% in New Jersey and 29% in Pennsylvania. In the same study, patient outcomes also improved. California reported almost 14% fewer surgical deaths than New Jersey and 10% fewer than Pennsylvania. We all know how much the almighty dollar means in health care lately. As it turns out, having extra nurses on staff is actually cost-saving. For example, the addition of one RN job in an ICU equated to a 24% shorter time spent in that unit. An additional RN job on a surgical unit equated to a 31% decrease in time spent on the unit. Long-term-care facilities with additional nurses also report fewer costly complications, such as pressure ulcers and urinary tract infections. The bottom line – imposing standardized nurse to patient ratios is good for many reasons. It is good for the staff, because as we know, happy staff will equal happy patients (and subsequently improved patient satisfaction scores). It is good for the patients, who will have improved outcomes. It is good for the patient families, who don’t have to worry so much about the care their loved ones are receiving. It also is good for the facility itself, as more staff equals less negative patient outcomes – and negative patient outcomes are undoubtedly more costly than the salary of the additional staff. Click here for National Nurse United’s safe staffing petition. Consider signing it and sharing it with friends and family; together we can advocate for our patients and for ourselves.
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. These cookies ensure basic functionalities and security features of the website, anonymously.
This cookie is used in sites developed with Microsoft.Net. When a user start browsing a unique session ID is created, which keeps track of all the information regarding that session.This information is stored in the web server and it is identified via a GUID.The GUID is essential for any ASP.NET site to function properly.
This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Analytics".
The cookie is set by GDPR cookie consent to record the user consent for the cookies in the category "Functional".
This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Other.
The cookie is set by GDPR cookie consent to record the user consent for the cookies in the category "Advertisement".
This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookies is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Necessary".
This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Performance".
The cookie is used by cdn services like CloudFare to identify individual clients behind a shared IP address and apply security settings on a per-client basis. It does not correspond to any user ID in the web application and does not store any personally identifiable information.
Performance cookies are used to understand and analyze the key performance indexes of the website which helps in delivering a better user experience for the visitors.
This is a session cookie set during the first display of the page on each visit. This cookie is used to shoot certain codes on the first display of the page and also to enhance the speed of the website.
This cookies is installed by Google Universal Analytics to throttle the request rate to limit the colllection of data on high traffic sites.
Analytical cookies are used to understand how visitors interact with the website. These cookies help provide information on metrics the number of visitors, bounce rate, traffic source, etc.
This cookie is used for websites which is having multiple domains to identify the same visitor across multiple domains.
This cookie is installed by Google Analytics. The cookie is used to calculate visitor, session, campaign data and keep track of site usage for the site's analytics report. The cookies store information anonymously and assign a randomly generated number to identify unique visitors.
This cookie is installed by Google Analytics. The cookie is used to store information of how visitors use a website and helps in creating an analytics report of how the website is doing. The data collected including the number visitors, the source where they have come from, and the pages visted in an anonymous form.
This cookie contains random number which is generated when a visitor visits the website for the first time. This cookie is used to identify the new visitors to the website.