Mandating nurse patient ratios

In the November midterm elections, 70% of Massachusetts voters rejected a law seeking to implement nurse-to-patient ratios in hospitals and other healthcare settings. Those in favor said it would improve patient safety and care.Those opposed said it didn't account for patient acuity and would create a financial burden on hospitals and healthcare systems.Optimal staffing is influenced by many factors, including cognitive workload and nurse experience.Physicians occupy Linked In’s top six highest-paying jobs, and eight of the top 15 spots.The study calls for developing broader workload strategies to ease nurses' stress and improve care quality.

Do patients get better care, experience fewer adverse events, and have shorter lengths of stay and lower mortality?

A recent study by physician-researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found Massachusetts' previous regulations regarding nurse-to-patient staffing ratios in ICUs were not associated with improved patient outcomes.

After comparing outcomes between academic ICUs nationwide and in Massachusetts, the authors found modest increases in ICU nurse staffing ratios—a change from 1.38 patients per nurse to 1.28 patients per nurse— before and after the mandate's implementation.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association, supported the law while the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association and the American Nurses Association were opposed to it.

While the election is over, all sides say discussions about patient safety and nurse staffing need to continue. Hickey, Ph D, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, vice president and associate chief nursing officer, cardiovascular and critical care patient services at Boston Children's Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, is internationally known for her work in research and leadership development, care delivery innovation, patient safety, and bridging nursing practice and health policy.

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