Contemporary Issues in Nursing

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In today 's world of nursing, there are efforts to improve patient care at hospitals. Severalstates across America are considering implementing nursing ratio laws. This ratio law wouldrequire hospitals to have strict nurse-to-patient ratios enforced at all times. Only California hasimplemented nursing ratios so far and it has been the subject of mixed reviews. Steps the legislation went throughThroughout the 1990 's, health care labor unions in California tried to implement nursestaffing laws through legislation and ballot initiatives. The California Nurses Association (CNA)campaigned for several years to constitute a mandated nurse-to-patient ratio system in California. The first endeavor was in 1993 when Assembly Bill (AB) 1445 was…show more content…
Hospitals that staff 1 nurse to less than 5 patients also have a lower incidence of patientfalls, medication errors and nosocomial infections (MacPhee, M., et al, 2006). Improved RN topatient ratios also have a reduced rate of pneumonia, urinary tract infections, shock, cardiacarrest, gastrointestinal bleeding, and other adverse outcomes in acute care settings. Recentresearch indicates that the cost of the RN to patient ratio law is considerably lower than the costof basic safety interventions commonly used in hospitals such as PAP tests for cervical cancerand clot-busting medications to treat stroke and heart attacks. Shorter lengths of stay have alsobeen reported since the ratio laws took place (Needleman, J., et al, 2002)HistoryCalifornia became the first state to mandate minimum nurse staffing ratios. Suggestionsfor nurse-to-patient ratios have been specified in union contracts at hospitals in several otherstates. Since California passed AB 394, related bills were introduced in many other states suchas Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. The cause for staffing ratios was aresult of average patient acuity in the state of California rising and projected increases for acuitylevels to keep increasing through the next 20 years (Institute for Health, 2001). AB 394 mayhave a major impact on demand for nursing personnel, the adequacy of nursing supply and thequality of nursing care provided to consumers. Nursing unions in California
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