A Changing Economy And Dwindling Finances

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A changing economy and dwindling finances in the United States have created a challenge for healthcare funding, thus creating the need for amendments to the original Public Health Service Act (Public Health Reports, 1994). The proposed National Nursing Shortage Reform and Patient Advocacy Act (§ 864, 2015-2016) mandates that nurse staffing requirements will be sent to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to guarantee minimum nurse/patient ratios. The proposed legislation gives precise numbers for nurse/patient ratios. Examples for direct care registered nurses include: one direct care registered nurse for every patient in an emergency trauma unit; one registered nurse for every two patients in critical care and intensive care units; one registered nurse for every three patients in the emergency room and telemetry units; one registered nurse for every four patients in intermediate care units and psychiatry units; one registered nurse for every five patients in rehabilitation units; etc. (§ 864, 2015-2016). Not only are nurse-to-patient ratios addressed, differentiation is made between ratios acceptable for registered nurses versus licensed practical nurses. Bill § 864 gives precise allowable ratios for licensed practical nurses. The bill also mandates exact numbers of nurse-to-patients ratios that are to be used and stipulates that averaging by hospitals is prohibited. Moreover, if persons requiring extra staffing are Medicare eligible, it will be the
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