Many nurses are celebrating ten years of mandated nurse to patient ratios in the state of California. This is the first state to successfully pass such a law and has taught the nation numerous things about mandating nurse staffing ratios. While many registered nurses see this as a saving grace, allowing them more time to spend with their patients, others feel that the law has not been a success. Like many things in life there is a give and take, and this law is no exception. Mixed feelings in the nursing community is unapparent as to weather mandated nursing to patient ratios is really the savior it was once thought to be.
The work for mandated nurse to patient ratios began in 1999, with the passage of California Assembly Bill 394. This bill was the first of its kind, and laid out very specific parameters for staffing. It was not until 2004 that the final bill was passed, mandating a 1:5 nurse to patient ratio on medical surgical units. This bill was not easily passed as Governor Schwarzenegger tried to delay the bill, citing financial issues of the state. Ultimately the California Nurses Association filed a lawsuit which overturned his ruling (Tevington, 2011).
The passing of Bill 394 was seen as a victory for many nurses at the time. “ Kathy Dennis, the RN from Mercy General Hospital, remembers having anywhere from eight to ten patients assigned to her, with only a licensed vocational nurse to help (Ratios, 2013).” The days of eight to ten patients per RN are long gone, now only having 4 to 5 patients. Having a lower number of patients assigned has given registered nurses the ability to feel more proactive in their patients care rather than reactive. This allows the registered nurse to have the time to fully educate the...
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...nical evidence that patient outcomes increase with a decrease in nurse to patient ratios as well as bringing the right people to the table to determine the right ratios to mandate. While one ratio will work very well for one hospital it may not work well for another that see’s a higher population of critically ill patients. Clearly, it is difficult to decide if mandated nurse to patient ratios are the right thing to pursue, but it is clear that more research needs to be conducted and having an active voice by voting or participating in a committee is evident.
Ratios, Then and Now. (2013). National Nurse, 109(8), 12-15.
Shekelle, P. G. (2013). Nurse-Patient Ratios as a Patient Safety Strategy. Annals Of Internal Medicine, 158404-409
Tevington, P. (2011). Professional Issues. Mandatory Nurse-Patient Ratios.
MEDSURG Nursing, 20(5), 265-268.
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