We’ve been saying it for years, but a major new study clearly shows that safe staffing saves lives – 10% more lives to be exact. The study, conducted by Linda Aiken at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, compared mortality rates in California hospitals that have minimum nurse-to-patient ratios, to mortality rates in New Jersey and Pennsylvania hospitals that do no have set ratios. Her research shows that during the two-year study period, 10% fewer patients would have died in Pennsylvania hospitals had there been minimum staffing ratios in place.
In the journal Health Services Research, Dr. Aiken said, “Nurses are the main surveillance system in hospitals.” Nurses have the most contact with patients and are more likely to notice a problem early when it can be treated easier. Having too many patients however, means that nurses may not be as attentive and can miss warning signs they would normally see.
This study is concrete evidence that our legislators to act now and pass HB 147 which would set safe RN-to-patient ratios in Pennsylvania’s hospitals. This bill would guarantee that a nuse working on a typical adult medical-surgical unit in a hospital would have no more than 4 patients. It would also make sure that nurse-to-patient ratios were adjusted down (so nurses had fewer patients) based on how complex or severe the patient’s condition is.
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