Mandating reliable nurse staffing systems

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Studies have found an increased risk of patient infections, mortality, and worker burnout as the number of patients assigned a given nurse increases.For example, a study that analyzed survey data from more than 7,000 registered nurses from 161 hospitals in Pennsylvania linked nurse understaffing to burnout and increased rates of catheter-associated urinary tract infections and surgical site infections.

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With the current staffing levels that are happening across the state, patients are definitely at risk.” The Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act would set enforceable nurse-to-patient ratios in New York health care facilities.

“Our study links the ratios to something just as important — the lower workers’ compensation costs, improved job satisfaction and increased safety,” he says. The change in injury rates among hospital nurses after implementation of the law in California was compared to the change in 49 other states and Washington, D. Leigh speculated that the lower rates of injuries and illnesses to nurses could come about in a number of ways as a result of improved staffing ratios.

Back and shoulder injuries could be prevented, for instance, if more nurses are available to help with repositioning patients in bed.

“In study after study, unsafe staffing levels lead to worse health outcomes, including shock, cardiac arrest, and hospital-acquired pneumonia,” says Martha Wilcox, an RN at Sullivan County (NY) Public Health.

“We know that a safe and reliable healthcare system of the future cannot be created unless we empower our frontline providers of care, and give them what they need to get the job done.

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