Nurse to Patient Ratios: An Alternative Approach

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In the health care industry, nurse to patient ratios is often a controversial issue. Registered nurses know and continue to reiterate the importance of safe staffing levels in health care facilities. Reductions in nursing budgets, coupled with the expanding nursing shortage, has resulted in a reduction of available nursing staff. As a result, the employed nursing staff are forced to work longer hours with more acutely ill patients. Consequently, patient care is compromised and ultimately perpetuates the nursing shortage because of this negative work environment. Providing safe quality health care is expensive. Health care facilities are always in search of ways to trim spending while maintaining the same quality of care. One of the methods in which hospitals trim the spending budget is through labor reduction. Tempting as this may seem, this method presents a massive dilemma to providing safe quality care. Less staff coupled with large patient workloads will lead to adverse patient outcomes. Evidence shows that it is more cost effective to maintain safe staffing levels and prevent adverse patient outcomes versus the estimated savings of labor reduction. Maintaining safe nurse to patient ratios reduces patient infection rates and patient mortality rates. Ratios also reduces nursing fatigue, which increases job satisfaction and nurse retention rates saving on the cost of hiring and training new staff.
Mandating staffing ratios is not the answer because the health care industry is already burdened with an overwhelming number of regulations. The aforementioned issues necessitates further research on how to implement a cost effective, safe, and quality method of maintaining nurse to patient ratios. This research paper will prove...

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