Safe Nurse to Patient Ratios Essay

2229 Words Mar 1st, 2013 9 Pages
Finding Safe Nurse to Patient Ratios
Augsburg College

Abstract
Determining nurse-to-patient ratios in nursing facilities remains a challenge for the nursing profession. Two main staffing methods that are currently used in most nursing facilities are staffing by patient acuity using patient classification systems and staffing by mandated nurse-to-patient rations. Each method has an impact on patient outcomes, safety and overall satisfaction determined from different articles and studies done on each staffing method. There are pros and cons to each staffing methods. Nursing facilities look at many of these pros and cons when determining staffing methods that are used, cost, patient outcomes, nursing satisfaction and
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Duffin (2012) stated, “The California Nursing Association argues that this [mandated nurse-to-patient ratios] reduces mortality levels and allows nurses to spend more time with patients” (p.7). Duffin also quoted the co-president of the California Nursing Association, who said “A study from the University of Pennsylvania which concluded that New Jersey hospitals would have 14 percent fewer deaths if they matched California’s surgical unit ratios” (p.7). Increased nurse-to-patient ratios have been shown to decrease the infection risks in facilities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2004) stated, “They have identified a link between improved nurse to patient ratios and lower hospital outbreaks of bloodstream infections”(p 1). Mandated staffing ratios have shown to have many positives but they are not without flaws. Mandated nurse-to-patient ratios have some flaws to work out. Mandatory nurse-to-patient ratios could increase costs with healthcare costs already hard for many to afford. Welton (2007) stated, “Mandatory ratios, if imposed nationally, may result in increased overall costs of care with no guarantees for improvement in quality or positive outcomes of hospitalization” (p1). According to Welton the cost to the hospital are not covered when these mandates are put in place, leaving the hospital to pick up the extra costs of hiring additional nurses to comply with mandates. Mandated nurse-to-patient ratios do not allow for
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